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Snapchat's advertising push begins

The social network known for its ephemeral messages is finally trying to make money, nearly a year after Facebook offered to acquire it for $3 billion.

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Snapchat's logo is a ghost, a reference to how messages on its service disappear. Snapchat

Snapchat's taking the plunge.

The social network, known for messages users send to one another that disappear after they're viewed, said it will begin displaying advertisements in its app. Ads will be inserted into the list of recent messages a customer receives, and they can choose whether to look at it or not, the company said in a statement Friday.

The ads won't be tailored to a user's personal tastes, the company said, invoking a criticism of Facebook's and Google's strategy of showing ads based on information they've gathered about their users.

The company also vowed not to blanket its entire service with ads. "We won't put advertisements in your personal communication," it said. "That would be totally rude."

The move is a critical step for Snapchat. Since launching three years ago, the company's service has become synonymous with a new breed of social-networking services, with a focus on simple communications of either a photo or video. The twist: Messages disappear soon after they're seen.

The company has said users were sending 700 million photos and videos to each other per day. Public messages, called "Stories," were being viewed 500 million times per day.

The company's rapid growth caught the attention of Facebook, which offered $3 billion to buy the firm last year; Snapchat's executives declined.

Snapchat said advertisements will begin in the US, and will disappear after they're viewed, or within 24 hours.

"We want to see if we can deliver an experience that's fun and informative, the way ads used to be," the company said.