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Instagram Direct launched as new messaging service

Instagram Direct has been launched as a new way to send photos and videos in a more private way.

Unveiled during a live streamed Instagram event, the popular photography and video editing and sharing app just got a new feature – Instagram Direct.

Instagram Direct lets you send your photos and videos just to a select group of friends, family or a single person, rather than just the social media site for everyone to see.

“Over the past three years, the Instagram community has grown to over 150 million people capturing and sharing moments all around the globe,” reads the Instagram blog. “As we’ve grown Instagram has evolved not only into a community of photographers, but also into a means of visual communication.”

“There are, however, 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. Instagram Direct helps you share these moments”.

Working in a similar fashion to Whatsapp, Instagram Direct will allow users to send messages, photos and videos in real-time, but messages will be deleted over time as they are on Snapchat but with a longer shelf-life.

Instagram Direct will be built into the main Instagram app and will appear next to the usual Social tab, labelled as the Direct Tab.

You’ll be able to choose the contacts you wish to send your content to, adding up to 15 at a time. Again, similar to Whatsapp, you’ll see a tick mark when the message has been seen. If the recipient likes your message, that little tick transforms into a heart.

You can only send Instagram Direct message to people who you follow, and follow you back. If someone you don’t know sends your message, you’ll get a pending request alert and you can decide whether to accept the photo.

Messages can be ignored, and users can be blocked if they become persistently irritating.

The latest version of Instagram with Direct is available today for iOS and Android. Instagram for Windows Phone is still in beta and won’t get the messaging functionality just yet.

Read more: Best Android phones 2013

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