Facebook to Launch a Snapchat-like App for Sharing Short-lived Photos

Now that filtered smartphone photos have taken over the photo sharing world, many people — especially investors — are wondering: what’s next? One possible answer may be temporary photo sharing.

Just last week we reported that Snapchat had raised $10 million to continue pioneering the frontier. Now, a report has emerged that Facebook is working on its own mobile app that offers exactly the same thing.

Mike Isaac of AllThingsD reports that Facebook is currently in the process of tested the app, which was built by its own developers.

It’s a standalone app that makes it easy to share impermanent photographs with others. While the exact way it will do this is not yet known, it may be similar to Snapchat in that you must touch certain areas of your screen or phone controls in order to keep the photo open. Once the viewing time runs out (or you let go) the photo disappears into thin air.

Facebook is reportedly aiming to have the new app released “in the coming weeks,” before the end of 2012.

Is temporary sharing the next big thing in the photo sharing industry?

While this concept may seem like a useless novelty to many people at the moment, it may actually be the start in a major paradigm shift. In online messaging, text has mostly been viewed as impermanent. People don’t expect messaging services to back up their short messages for the long haul, and often prefer that they’re completely deleted once it has been read by the recipient.

In photo sharing, on the other hand, permanence has generally been a big deal.

This new trend combines the two worlds by treating images as temporary things to be viewed and then discarded (at least on the viewer’s end); as messengers of information rather than archives for future reference. While the word “waste” may come to mind when photo enthusiasts hear about this idea, we generally don’t think the same way when considering text typed into a chat box.

Both text and photos are simply pixels on a screen that can communicate information, right?