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screengrab via Instagram via screengrab via Instagram

Instagram launches private photo messaging service

Instagram Direct allows users to send photos and videos to up to 15 people at a time.

INSTAGRAM HAS LAUNCHED its new private messaging service Instagram Direct, allowing it to challenge Snapchat, WhatsApp and other messaging apps.

In a press event in New York, its co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom revealed that the feature, which went live today, allows users to send photos and videos to up to 15 people at a time.

He said that introducing private messaging is “huge” for Instagram as it allows it to compete with messaging apps like WhatsApp, which are growing in popularity.

When you’re posting a photo or video, you will be given the option to publish it publicly or send it to specific people. When a person sees a photo, their profile picture underneath will receive a tick function, while those who like a photo will have a heart icon.

image(Image: Instagram)

Only people who follow you can send photos and videos to you directly. If you don’t follow someone, they can still send you messages, but they will go into pending requests. This prevents your inbox from being spammed with messages from people you don’t know.

Systrom said that the reason why users can only send one message at a time was to keep things simple. It also avoided text messaging because it wanted to focus on the app’s strengths, which are photos and videos.

Instagram currently has 150 million users worldwide, and more and half use the service daily.

Read: Explainer: Why are the major social media sites trying to break into mobile messaging? >

Read: 10 messaging apps that are worth downloading >

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