After Months Of Buzz, Path Launches: It’s Photo Sharing Where You Can Be Yourself

Over the last few months there’s been plenty of buzz and speculation about Path, a hitherto “stealthish” company that was founded by long time Facebook employee Dave Morin, along with Shawn Fanning and Dustin Mierau. The company has raised funding from a very impressive list of investors that includes Ron Conway, Paul Buchheit, Keith Rabois, Ashton Kutcher, and a laundry list of Facebook alumni. And tonight, it’s ready for its big debut. You’ll be able to grab Path’s iPhone app on the App Store in a matter of minutes.

So what is Path? In short, it’s a private photo sharing network — think Instagram, but without the filters and with a privacy model that takes away any anxiety associated with sharing photos with people you don’t know. It’s based around email addresses and phone numbers, rather than a public database of users. And compared to other popular social applications, Path is going against the grain: there’s no follow system and the friend system is also quite different from what you’re used to on Facebook.

Path is using a system where you specify who exactly you want to share your photos with. After firing up the app, you’ll be asked to select contacts from your phone’s address book — tap a few, and from then on, those contacts will see your shared photo items in their feed automatically (they don’t have to accept anything, but they can block or temporarily ‘mute’ you if they don’t want to see your content). Path wants the entire experience to be personal enough that you won’t feel nervous about sharing your photos, so it’s limiting the maximum number of friends to 50. And note that there isn’t a request system to speak of —it’s up to you to take the initiative to share photos with the people you care about.

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