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Snapchat's latest feature: Pay to replay a message that disappeared

The hot social-networking startup is offering customers in the US the opportunity to re-watch photos and videos they've already seen, part of the latest effort to expand its business.

Snapchat's logo is a ghost because its messages disappear. Or at least they used to. Snapchat

At Snapchat, what once was lost can now be found -- for a price.

The social-networking startup, which Facebook tried to buy for $3 billion two years ago, began offering US customers a new way to watch old videos and photos Tuesday.

The plan is to charge customers to re-watch old messages, called snaps, after they've been viewed an initial time. This circumvents one of the service's key selling points of allowing users to send one another messages that disappear after they're viewed.

Snapchat said in a blog post that it's offering this feature because it realized many of its users "receive many daily Snaps deserving of a Replay." It's charging 99 cents to re-watch three disappeared messages, but you can only re-watch a snap once. "They're a little pricey -- but time is money!"

The Venice, California-based company had previously offered users a chance to replay one message for free each day.

The move marks the latest effort by the messaging service to expand its business and find new ways to make money from the roughly 100 million people who use it daily. Though this is the first time Snapchat has attempted to ask for money directly from users, it has attempted to expand its business through advertising and content partnerships.

So far, venture capitalists and tech investors have been impressed. The startup is possibly valued at as much as $16 billion, making it one of the most-valued venture-backed companies in the world. That figure is not far from the $19 billion Facebook paid last year to buy a competing messaging startup, WhatsApp.

Snapchat also said it's offering other new features, including animated filters that change a photo or video to add animations such as a cartoonish rainbow, or distort a photo to make the subject look older, for example.

The service will also begin offering its users "trophies," or recognition rewards, for various things they do on the service. For example, if a user sends 10 snaps with the front-facing flash, it'll give them a "trophy" for doing that.