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Wickr Timed Feed: The picture of privacy

A clever new private messaging feature will let you publicly post sensitive pictures and comments on Facebook, but without letting the cat out of the bag.

apps Updated: Jan 29, 2015 02:40 IST

A clever new private messaging feature will let you publicly post sensitive pictures and comments on Facebook, but without letting the cat out of the bag.

Wickr's smartphone and desktop apps already let users share self-erasing photos and messages securely with other Wickr users, but this new feature, called Wickr Timed Feed (WTF), takes things to James Bond levels of ingenuity.

When used directly within the iOS smartphone app, WTF allows users to share photos with up to 151 friends just like on a social network. The image or images stay live and accessible for 24 hours and invited friends can not only view them, but can also annotate and edit them as they see fit, continuing the private conversation.

After 24 hours, access stops and the images are no more.

Wickr Timed Feed. Photo: AFP

However, what makes the new feature worthy of inclusion on a dashing secret agent's smartphone is that these images can also be posted on Facebook, where they will appear disguised as images of cute kittens to all but other Wickr app users. With the app launched, they will be able to click on the picture and see past the cat to view the real image and any message written on it.

This technique, of hiding an image in plain sight, was perfected by spies and is known in the trade as steganography.

As for concealing sensitive information within a kitty pic, Wickr's founders claim that it's because 15% of all internet traffic is cat-related and that on an average day 3.8 million cat photos and videos are shared online. All of which makes the cat picture the perfect disguse for concealing sensitive information.

The app is available now for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.