Dec. 17, 2012 at 11:44 AM ET
Sometimes you really need a message to self-destruct after its intended recipient has seen it — just ask Ethan Hunt ... or anyone who's ever been embarrassed by a love note or racy photo. Facebook may be at work on an app that makes your "Mission Impossible" fantasies come true, according to a report.
All Things D's Mike Isaac writes that "sources familiar with the matter" claim that the social network is currently testing an app similar to Snapchat — a service that allows users to send photos, videos or messages which will self-destruct up to 10 seconds after being viewed.
Like Facebook's Messenger and Camera, this new app will supposedly be a standalone download, separate from the main Facebook app. (As Isaac points out, this means that Facebook will wind up with five individual apps, if you're counting Instagram. Not that that's any match for Amazon, with over 10, and Google, with over 20, on the iOS platform alone.)
Based on what Isaac's sources reveal, Facebook's app will function almost exactly like Snapchat. "After a user opens the new app, they’re presented with a list of current message threads between them and their friends," Isaac explains. "Hold your finger down on one of the threads, and a timer comes up to ask how long the message should be viewable. From there, you’re able to send the message — which, just like on Snapchat, will only be viewable for a fixed period of time."
Snapchat does have a feature that alerts users if a message recipient took a screenshot before the message disappeared. No word as to whether Facebook will incorporate something similar. Without these kinds of precautions, users will have a false sense of security, like some people feel with apps such as Snapchat. But whatever the technological advancements, there will generally remain ways to copy or otherwise capture those sensitive correspondences. After all, anyone can take a photo of a screen.
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