Slingshot app

Why Facebook was willing to pay users to test Slingshot

Facebook has been offering payments to potential testers of its new photo and video sharing app. This was a surprising development in many respects, as high profile launches like Facebook’s Slingshot service are not normally short of eager users willing to test what could become the next big thing.

But there is more to this story than Slingshot attempting to overcome a lack of early interest by offering financial incentives. A quick glance at the Play Store reveals that the app currently has over 7,000 reviews, so the developers have not been short of feedback.

There have been suggestions that the reason for offering selected users ‘at least $200’ is due to recent criticism of Facebook, after the social networking giant revealed that it had secretively been carrying out an experiment looking at the emotions of its users.

The issue with Facebook’s study was that it was gathering data from users who had no idea that they were part of an experiment. But the question of informed consent does not apply in the same way to app testers who have been specifically asked to give their feedback.

What Slingshot has gained from the offer of money in return for feedback is good PR. It will also be hoping that those it selects to test its service will be more engaged with the process, given that they are being rewarded for their participation.

Unsurprisingly, a great deal of interest has been generated by the offer of a financial incentive. Slingshot has now removed the original blog entry where the details were posted.