Instagram is making improvements to the way its users share photos and videos with each other. Today’s updates make the visual social network’s messaging capabilities more conversational, letting you send hashtag and location pages just by tapping on an icon.
Launched in 2013, Instagram Direct started off as a way for people to share moments with one person or with a smaller group. The company says that since its debut, 85 million people use this feature to “send inside jokes, family videos, photos from road trips, and other moments meant only for a handful of people.” But the one problem is that it was just a finite loop — users could share content, but that’s it.
Now Instagram is enabling threaded messages to make it easier for users to go back and forth with the people that they want to talk to the most. And don’t worry about privacy concerns, as the company says that content shared via Direct will only be visible to recipients. Additionally, if you have a private account, only those people you grant access to will be able to see those messages in Direct.
Other updates include being able to label group messages and add people to a group conversation, somewhat akin to Twitter’s Group Direct Message feature; users can now respond to messages with “jumbo” emojis (!) or through the use of a quick camera feature to post a selfie or another photo.
With more than 300 million monthly active users, Instagram is a valuable commodity within the Facebook ecosystem. The evolution of a message feature gives the social networking company another powerful communications platform, besides Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
Instagram is the place where people can tell the visual stories of their lives, and it makes sense that the company has added these features. Now users can share their memories on a popular platform and in private without having to set their account to private. What’s more, this might help to clean up all the incessant @mentions that are in posts — you know the ones, where a user would go to a photo and tag someone and you’re wondering what the context is. Instagram says that nearly 40 percent of all comments include an @mention.
All posts will include an arrow that, when tapped, will enable users to send it to a friend or group as a message. These features are available on Instagram’s Android and iOS apps today.