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Photo of purported 'Facebook phone' leaked ahead of event

Alleged HTC First. | Source: evleaks via Twitter

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With a planned Facebook special event two days away, a photo of an HTC-built handset dubbed the "HTC First" has hit the Web, stoking flames that a true Facebook phone may soon see release.

The social networking giant is widely expected to show off a new operating system built on Google's Android platform at an event scheduled for Thursday, and some rumors say the company will introduce its own smartphone based on HTC hardware. In a tweet on Tuesday "evleaks," who has in the past outed a number of handsets before their official unveiling, revealed the HTC First, which could be the handset in question.

While the alleged picture does exhibit some aliasing around the "HTC First" lettering, the text overlay may simply be a label "evleaks" put on a legitimate photo of the phone.

Speculation of a Facebook-developed phone has been making the rounds for some time.

According to a recent rumor, the firm is looking to launch an iPhone competitor that deeply integrates its social networking platform into hardware built by a dedicated handset maker, with HTC being at the top of the list. The device could feature direct Facebook profile updating and a homescreen news feed, as well as quick access to the service's integrated apps. Sources say the mobile OS will be a "flavor" of Android with a user interface reminiscent of Facebook's iOS app.