Snapchat says that recovery of deleted data from its mobile photo-sharing app is "sometimes possible".
Developers say photos are always deleted within 10 seconds but a US firm claims it was able to retrieve pictures from Android-powered devices using forensic software.
Snapchat users can choose how long a photo is viewable after it is sent.
Once the time limit of up to 10 seconds expires the photo is deleted from Snapchat servers.
But Utah-based Decipher Forensics claims to have devised a way to recover the deleted photos.
In research published online they claim Snapchat photos "are recoverable and do not disappear forever".
The company claims the process of recovering a photo takes several hours.
They charge a fee of between $300 and $500 (£195-£325) to provide the service.
Snapchat user, 16-year-old Finn Tesfai, said the discovery had the potential to put users off.
"I think that will ruin the app, it won't make it that special any more," he said.
But he said the process could have benefits.
"Sometimes I miss a photo and you want to get it back, so it could be a good idea actually," he added.
In a blog post, Snapchat explained that files sent via the app were deleted in "the normal way that things are usually deleted on computers and phones".
It goes on to say that "with the right forensic tools, it's sometimes possible to retrieve data after it has been deleted".
Speaking at a conference in April, Snapchat's Evan Spiegel said 150 million photos are uploaded and shared through the service every day.
He denied the app was widely used by teenagers to send sexually explicit pictures, adding "I certainly don't think that the service is used that way typically".
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