Instagram has decided to take on Snapchat by allowing users to send one another pictures and videos through private messages.
The Facebook-owned photo-sharing app on Thursday announced Instagram Direct, a messaging feature that gives users an alternative to sharing photos and videos with all of their followers. With Instagram Direct, users can send their content to other individuals or a small number of users.
To use the feature, users must download the latest version of the Instagram app for Apple iOS and Android. After taking a photo or video and getting the "Share to" page, users may choose the "Direct" option instead of "Followers." On the "Direct" page they can then choose who they want to send their photo or video to.
Users can see their message conversations by clicking on a new inbox icon that will appear at the top right corner of their home feed. Within direct conversations, users can respond to others by "liking" a photo or video they receive, commenting back with a text reply or sending a photo or video in response.
The new Instagram feature is a direct shot at Snapchat, the popular Los Angeles start-up that lets users message each other privately with photos and videos that disappear within seconds.
Facebook has twice tried to acquire Snapchat -- it reportedly offered $3 billion in the last attempt. With more and more users flocking to apps that let them message privately, rather than broadcast their lives, Snapchat and others pose a threat to Facebook. That may explain why Facebook has decided to add Instagram Direct.
Twitter also entered the private photo messaging market this week, adding the ability to send photos through Direct Message, Twitter's version of private messaging.