Instagram goes 'Direct' with new messaging system

Instagram Direct is a messaging system in the mold of the one used by corporate parent Facebook. 

Instagram
Instagram has unveiled a new messaging system called Direct.

At a press conference Thursday in New York, Facebook-subsidiary Instagram took the wraps off its latest feature: a private messaging service called Direct. 

The Direct interface is pretty simple. From now on, when you take a picture or shoot a video using the Instagram app, you'll have two options – either share the media with all your followers, or choose a specific group of buddies. If you choose the latter option, a "conversation" – in Instagram-speak – will be created, and you'll be able to read comments or see "Likes" in real time. 

"There [are] 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," the Instagram press team wrote in a post today on the company blog. "Instagram Direct helps you share these moments." 

To access Direct, you'll need to download the latest version of Instagram from the iTunes or Google Play stores. 

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Rajeev Chand, the head of research at investment bank Rutberg & Company, said "messaging is a great idea for Instagram." He went on to reference Poke, a recently-released (and not particularly popular) iPhone app that allows users to quickly send text or media messages. "What teens do not want is a copycat, as Poke illustrated," Mr. Chand said. 

Not everyone, of course, was particularly wowed by the new Instagram feature. In a sharply-worded commentary over at CNET, Roger Cheng argues that Instagram is merely playing a long-shot game of "catch-up." 

"Instagram is essentially trying to take on the giants of the instant message world. Good luck," Mr. Cheng writes. "There are a myriad of players in this area, including Apple's iMessage, WhatsApp, and even BlackBerry's BBM. These are established services that people are comfortable using when sending messages, photos, and video to specific people, and all come complete with their network of contacts." 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.