Instagram Joins the Instant Messaging Game With ‘Instagram Direct’…

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Instagram has added a direct messaging feature, dubbed Instagram Direct…

…Because sharing photos is great, and sharing everything with everyone is not. In a blog post Instagram said:

“There are… moments in our lives that we want to share, but that will be the most relevant only to a smaller 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.”

The Instagram feed has a new icon in the top corner which leads to an inbox for direct messages. It also shows pending messages from people a user isn’t following.

Photos and videos can be privately sent to up to 15 users. This starts a new thread where the group can heart the media and have a text discussion. This conversation updates in real time.

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The update is available on iOS and Android. A Windows app is in beta… but for now there’s 6tag, a third party app that actually rivals Instagram.

Facebook-owned Instagram is now in direct competition with Snapchat, who recently turned down Facebook’s $3 billion acquisition offer. Furthermore, Twitter recently added photos to direct messages.