Facebook-owned photo-sharing service Instagram has launched a new feature allowing users to send images and messages privately as it looks to compete with popular mobile messaging services such as WhatsApp and Snapchat.
Reuters reports the Instagram Direct, launched by co-founder and chief executive Kevin Systrom during a presentation in New York, allows users to send photos or videos groups of between one and 15 people and have real-time text conversations.
“Sometimes you want to be able to share, not with everyone, but just with a specific group,” Systrom said. “Instagram Direct is a simple way to send photos and videos to your friends.”
Instagram, which has more than 150 million monthly users, was bought by Facebook for US$1 billion in 2012.
HumanIPO reported last month the company had launched a Windows Phone app, while in October it began placing adverts in users’ photo-streams as a monetisation strategy. Video sharing was added to Instagram in June.