Instagram Introduces Private Messaging

The popular photo-sharing app Instagram introduced on Thursday a messaging service that would let users send private photos and videos to their friends directly.

Kevin Systrom, a founder and the chief executive of the company, introduced Instagram Direct at an event in Manhattan.

“For us, communication is very core,” he said. “It’s not about photography necessarily.”

Mr. Systrom said that the feature is meant to let people start a private conversation around a particular photograph or video. With the new service, users can share their images and videos with 15 or fewer friends at one time, instead of having to send the message to all their followers. The direct messages can be sent only to people who follow each other on the service.

“The whole idea of this feature is to take moments and send them,” said Mr. Systrom. He said he envisions the service as being particularly useful to families, or to teachers who want to share with all the students in a class. He also said that brands and advertisers would be able to interact with their followers using the new feature by inviting them to submit photos for a contest, for example.

“It’s not about spamming everyone you know,” he said. “It’s about sharing a moment with your friends.”

The introduction of Instagram Direct, available for iPhone and Android users, comes at a time when private messaging services like Snapchat and WhatsApp are rising in popularity among mobile users. Private messaging has become big business overseas, including services like Line and KakaoTalk. And this week, Twitter introduced a new feature that lets users send photos privately to their friends.

Read full story here via the New York Times.

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