Billed as Instagram Direct, the feature allows users to send photos or short videos to select people on their network. The company's CEO, Kevin Systrom revealed the feature during a news conference in New York.
“It’s really fun way to to bring people together around photos and videos just like you would at home,” Systrom said at the event. “You take out the old shoe box, you sit around a table and show people pictures of your vacation. And now this happens in real time. Small groups, individuals all around photos and videos.”
The feature is another form of "direct messaging", and, in truth, the Facebook-owned photo-sharing company is only playing catch-up with the likes of Twitter, which have offered direct messaging for some time now.
Only two days ago, Twitter updated its app, to allow users to attach photos to direct messages. However, Snapchat is the real alpha dog in this space, with its self-detonating messaging model. The app allows users to take part in threaded conversations, which is what, essentially, Instagram Direct allows people to do with photos and short text.
“The people you’ve sent the post to will get a notification,” Instagram said in a blog post. “To see posts you’ve sent with Instagram Direct, tap in the top right of your Home feed.”
With privacy in mind, Instagram Direct photos can only be shared with people who follow you and can't be further shared on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. What's more, although the images don't self-destruct like Snapchat, if a user decides to delete their original photo, it's then no longer available to others either.