AP Photo/Mark LennihanInstagram co-founder Kevin Systrom introduces a new feature

Instagram launches direct messaging feature

Instagram has added a new feature that lets users share photos and videos with up to 15 people rather than everyone who follows them on the popular Facebook-owned photo-sharing app.

Called Instagram Direct, the feature is available for Apple and Android phones, CEO Kevin Systrom said at a news event in New York City. Users can choose up to 15 people who follow them on Instagram to share photos or videos.

Previously, the only way to share content on Instagram was to post it to your feed, which can be either visible to everyone or locked so only people you approve can see it.

The new tool comes as popularity of messaging apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp is growing. On Tuesday, Twitter also updated its direct messaging tool to let users send photos and videos to one another for the first time.

Forrester Research analyst Julie Ask called the messaging tool a “catch up move” for Instagram, in a blog post, noting that apps such as WeChat already let people share videos, photos, messages and other content.

To use Instagram Direct, download the latest update to the app, and upload or snap a photo the way you normally would. Once you're done applying old-school filters, tagging your buddies and adding a caption if you wish, you'll get the option to either share with “followers” or “direct.” Tapping the latter will bring up suggested followers to send the photo to, or let you pick from your list of followers.

Once you send the photo, a green check mark will appear if the recipient has seen it, replaced by a heart if they “liked” it. It is possible to send photos to people who don't follow you, but it'll appear as a pending request and won't go into their inbox. They can tap “X'' and they won't get a direct message from you again — or tap a checkmark and it'll go into their inbox.

Systrom said the reason for the 15-recipient limit is to make the feature about “moments you share with friends” and “not about spamming everyone you know.”

Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia thinks the new feature will help Instagram compete with Snapchat, the disappearing-message app that Facebook reportedly tried and failed to buy for $3 billion recently.

Instagram has more than 150 million users — up from 80 million at the start of this year — and more than half of them use it every day, Systrom said.

Just Posted

HUD secretary calls for increased deregulation after tour of Potrero Hill public housing

Carson calls for greater ‘cooperation’ between local, federal officials but offers no additional funds

Suspect in high-profile waterfront attack ordered to stand trial

Judge adds charge against Austin James Vincent for alleged criminal threats

SF supervisors call on health department to ‘pause’ planned relocation of mental health patients

San Francisco supervisors Hillary Ronen and Matt Haney are urging health officials… Continue reading

Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence may pull out of Folsom Street Fair

San Francisco’s iconic Folsom Street Fair could soon see a high-profile departure:… Continue reading

SF to form task force to address drug dealing in Tenderloin, SoMa

As the supervisor of the Tenderloin and SoMa neighborhood, Matt Haney said… Continue reading

Most Read