Dec. 12, 2013 — -- You no longer have to share your selfles, photos of your delicious latte or adorable puppies with all your Instagram friends. You can now share them with just one friend, or up to 15 friends, privately.
CEO of Instagram Kevin Systrom today introduced Instagram Direct, a feature in the Instagram app that allows you to share your photos with smaller groups of people or with just a single friend.
"Instagram Direct is a simple way to send photos and videos to your friends," Systrom said at an event in New York City. "We wanted to make this about moments you share with your friends."
With the new version of the app, which will be available to iPhone and Android users today, you can tap the "Direct" tab and then select a friend or up to 15 friends to send the photo or video to. Then once your friends receive it, they can chat and "like" the photo. The app works more like a messaging service. You can even get push alerts when someone has sent you a message back.
Systrom addressed privacy issues about the service. Photos and videos you get from your followers will appear immediately. If you get a photo from someone who doesn't follow you, it will go into your requests folder, so you can decide if you want to see it.
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"We don't show the image from someone who isn't following you. There is no potential of getting images you don't want to see," he explained.
Instagram's Direct feature comes as a number of social media companies are looking to win in the messaging market. Earlier this week, Twitter added the ability to send photos in Direct Messages, and Facebook has also beefed up its Messenger app in the past few months with stickers and group chatting. Snapchat has also grown by leaps and bounds among younger users.
But Instagram maintains it's not trying to take on Snapchat -- unlike Snapchats, Instagram Direct moments will not disappear after 10 seconds.
"Instagram is about capturing and sharing the world's moments," he said. "What we are best at is archiving those moments and sharing those."