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12/12/2013
01:18 PM
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Instagram Private Messaging Debuts

Instagram Direct tool challenges Twitter and Snapchat, lets Instagram users message each other with photos and videos.

Instagram users can now send private photos and videos with messages to up to 15 of their friends, the photo-sharing app announced Thursday at a press event in New York. Previously, all photos and videos that users posted were public unless their profile was set to private. Called Instagram Direct, the new capability takes on fellow photo-sharing app Snapchat, and Twitter, which yesterday announced that its private direct messaging feature now supports sending and receiving images.

Instagram said the new direct messaging feature gives users the freedom to share posts they might not have otherwise shared depending on the photo's context. "There are, however, moments in our lives that we want to share, but that will be the most relevant only to a small group of people -- an inside joke between friends captured on the go, a special family moment or even just one more photo of your new puppy. Instagram Direct helps you share these moments," the company said.

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Instagram Direct is available to all iOS and Android users in the version 5.0 update. When you download it, you'll notice a new "Direct" icon in the top-right corner of your home feed. Tap this to find the photos and videos your friends have sent to you.

According to Instagram, you and a user need to follow each other in order to send and receive private videos and photos. If someone you're not following sends you a photo or video, it will go to your requests folder for you to decide if you want to view it, the company said. Posts that stay in the requests queue might later become unavailable. You can also tap the X button to ignore the post, or tap the Ignore All button for all the direct posts in your queue.

To send a photo or video to specific people, start by tapping the camera button. After choosing your content, tap the Direct button at the top to select the names of the people you want to share it with. Then write your caption and tap Send.

You can choose to delete a post you've sent, which also deletes it from Instagram. If you do so, the people you've sent it to will no longer be able to see it.

After you send the photo or video to a friend or group of friends, Instagram will show you who's opened it, who's liked it, and any comments your viewers make, in real time, the company said. If you privately send a photo or video to a group of people, any comments made to the post can be seen by everyone included in that list, regardless of whether the people follow each other.

Have a look at the video below to see Instagram's new Direct feature in action.

Senior editor Kristin Burnham covers social media, social business and IT leadership and careers for InformationWeek.com. Contact her at Kristin.Burnham@ubm.com or follow her on Twitter: @kmburnham.

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Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
12/13/2013 | 10:07:32 AM
Re: Even Instagram Get More Complicated
I understand the need for companies to push out new features in order to compete -- we see this from Facebook all the time, regardless of whether or not the feature makes sense. One day we'll look back at Instagram and say, "Remember when it was just for photo sharing?" the same way I look back at Facebook and say, "Remember when it was just for college students?"
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
12/12/2013 | 3:36:28 PM
Re: Instagram vs. text
I think it solves a major problem with Instagram -- how to share pictures of something you attended without offending those who weren't invited. My kids are Instagram users, and this is a real issue -- do you post a picture of a birthday party? How does that make those not invited feel? If I understand this, you can direct message only those who came. This addresses a problem that social media in general faces -- we don't have just one big social circle, we have many little and interconnected ones.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
12/12/2013 | 3:03:46 PM
Direct a good idea
I just updated Instagram and sent a photo to a friend using Direct. Simple and easy. I think this is a good idea and logical extension for the app. Sometimes you just want to send a pic to a couple buddies, not all your followers. The only downside is people may start sending pics to little groups over sharing with a broad community, which is the point of Instagram. But it's nice to have the option to be selective if you want.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
12/12/2013 | 2:52:42 PM
Instagram vs. text
I've used Snapchat in the past, though the novelty of it quickly wore off. I think I'd use Instagram's direct message feature, though I'm trying to figure out why I wouldn't just text the picture or video to a friend instead. I guess we'll see...
kq4ym
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kq4ym,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/12/2013 | 1:35:51 PM
Even Instagram Get More Complicated
While I have to admit I'm not eager to join every "latest and greatest" social media feature, the direct Instatgram messaging just seems to be a bit more than I'd want to fool with. Why complicate what should be a simple interface just to send more silly things to friends and family? It's getting to be more and more time that I don't have to use all the new stuff!
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