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App maker pitches self-destruct messaging to Hollywood

Confide, a startup whose app sends messages that reveal a single word at a time and then destroys the entire conversation, announces the business version of its app through an ad aimed at Sony execs.

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The Confide app in action. Confide

A startup is eyeing Hollywood in the wake of the Sony Pictures hack by offering a messaging app that never reveals the full text and then automatically destroys the conversation after it's read.

The app maker, Confide, launched an ad campaign on Tuesday, offering the business version of its self-destruct tool to entertainment studios, networks and labels for free, in perpetuity.

Its ad in the Los Angeles Times starts: "An open letter to the Sony executive team, iHack victims and the entire entertainment community."

Confide's move is little more than a savvy marketing pitch, but there is some validity to its service. According to the company, its app offers end-to-end encryption for digital communication. Once a conversation is complete, the messages sent between people automatically self-destruct, leaving no trace on any server.

If the service sounds familiar, that's because Snapchat provides a similar product with photos and videos. However, there has been rampant debate of just how private Snapchat's content really is. In October, for instance, a report surfaced saying that a 13-gigabyte library of photos and videos from over 200,000 accounts were accessed and kept by third parties. In addition, any Snapchat conversation can be captured through a screenshot.

For its part, Confide declares that its service is foolproof. The company's FAQ page states that when a message pops up, each word is covered. As the recipient "wands" over each word, it temporarily appears. As the wand moves on, the word is covered again, so the entire message is never visible. There is no opportunity for forwarding or archiving the messages. Screenshots are also controlled through Confide.

"We alert you (and the recipient) if the recipient attempts to take a screen shot," according to the company's FAQ.

Confide began offering a free, consumer-focused version in Apple's App Store and Google Play marketplace earlier this year.

The company had planned to launch the business version sometime in 2015. But after the recent Sony Pictures hack, which included exposing a number of damaging emails from executives, Confide decided to accelerate the rollout and start offering it to affected companies.

"We've been working on Confide for Business for almost a year. It's not uncommon for an enterprise company to give free benefits to early customers, as they gain traction. We saw the perfect use case with Sony and wanted to give them Confide for Business, for free. We hope they take us up on it," Confide co-founder and president Jon Brod said in an email to CNET.

So far, it's unclear whether any studios or celebrities will jump to get their hands on Confide. Sony has remained relatively tight-lipped about its ongoing battle with hackers releasing sensitive data and is working at improving the security of its network. Whether a service like Confide is something the company wants or needs right now is unknown.

(Via Wall Street Journal)