SAN FRANCISCO — Mary Ritti has joined the controversial photo messaging app Snapchat as VP of communications after nearly a decade at Burson-Marsteller. 

Launched in 2011, Snapchat lets users share pictures and videos that are meant to disappear once viewed. Because of its ephemeral nature, Snapchat has amassed a following among young people and has struggled to overcome perception that its technology is used primarily for sexual content. Snapchat competes with apps like Facebook's Poke. 

It is understood this is the first time Snapchat has hired senior communications counsel in-house.

Most recently, Snapchat worked with North of Nine, a tech boutique spun out of Burson-Marsteller, where Ritti was a partner since its founding in May 2011. Prior to that, Ritti held several posts at Burson, including as MD in its San Francisco office.