Is it possible to make money out of sexting?
LAST year saw the birth of an app called Snapchat, a picture-messaging service that comes with a self-destruct mechanism; anything you send is visible to the recipient for between only two and 10 seconds (you decide) before vanishing into the ether.
Despite a Snapchat founder insisting that "you can't build a business off sexting", the consequence-free exchange of naughty pictures seemed to be its only use, and I pondered whether it would sit ignored in the App Store.
Well, the past few weeks have seen it zoom up the iOS and Android charts, the company has netted £9m in funding, Facebook has launched a copycat rival called Poke, and Snapchat itself now processes a reported 60 million messages every day.
It's hard to believe that all those messages consist of lewd content - how do people find the time? - so it's possible that Snapchat has additional appeal based upon its simplicity; conversations are fleeting and don't hang around on the internet or on your device, contrary to nearly every other messaging system in operation.
But recent coverage of Snapchat continues to put nudity centre stage: do the naughty messages really disappear without trace? Does Snapchat make sexting safe?
The answer is "not entirely", thanks to the ability of many phones to take screengrabs; it requires speed and dexterity to grab a Snapchat picture, but it can be done.
The only weapon Snapchat has against screengrabs is to inform the sender when a recipient has done it - by which point it's too late anyway.
So perhaps it's better not to send revealing snaps to strangers after all…