Instagram introduced its private messaging feature, Instagram Direct.
Until now, Instagram users have been able to share their photos and videos either to the public or their list of followers, and any text-based communications happened in the comments under the photos. Instagram Direct introduces an entirely new way to communicate on the photo-sharing service. Users can exchange private messages with up to 15 people in one thread, creating groups based on similar interests, or facilitating more intimate conversations between partners or friends. Users can receive photos and videos from people they follow, although anyone can send private-message a user in the form of a “pending request.” This could be a problem if spammers try to use this channel – it may be a bad idea (and I suspect Instagram users with very high follower counts will end up ignoring their “pending request” box).
Instagram Direct shares some aesthetic similarities to Facebook Messenger, with user profiles in small circles. And since Facebook owns Instagram, they’re not really in competition here, but Instagram Direct has two major rivals: Snapchat and Twitter.
“What’s really important to Instagram is you need to remember these moments,” said Instagram CEO and cofounder Kevin Systrom, a subtle jab at Snapchat. Unlike the disappearing photo chat service, Instagram Direct keeps an accessible log of prior conversations, so users can revisit pictures and messages sent in the past.
Twitter debuted the ability to send photos in its direct messages yesterday, an attempt to attract users to its private messaging function, but that smaller adjustment may be overshadowed by Instagram’s announcement.
Instagram created a video explaining the feature: