At an event in New York, Facebook owned Instagram announced a new private messaging feature called Instagram Direct.

This new feature will allow you to send videos and photos privately to specific friends, who can then discuss the image and also use the already existing like button. Instagram Direct was made available straight away for iOS 5.0 and Android 5.0 but unfortunately not for Windows Phone.

Introducing Instagram Direct: Keeping Those Private Moments Private

Instagram has a large community of photographers who use the social network, as well as people who want to share moments from their everyday lives. But for those special times, which may only have meaning for a small group of friends or even a private joke, then Instagram Direct allows you to share these privately with up to 15 people at once.

“It’s like gathering people around a photo, a moment, and being able to have a conversation about them,” Kevin Systrom, chief executive officer of Instagram, said at the press event.

Systrom also explained how Instagram Direct was built “to feel natural to the Instagram experience you already know”.

On the home feed there is now an icon in the top right corner, which when tapped, opens an inbox showing all the photos and videos that have been received.

When sharing a photo or video there is now the option to share with “Followers” or specific people “Direct”. When you select “Direct”, you then choose which people to send it to, write a caption and send. Easy!

A nice touch to this feature is being able to follow who has seen the image or video, who has liked it and see comments, all in real time.

No doubt this additional feature will help fend off competition from the likes of Snapchat and WhatsApp. Last month Facebook offered to buy Snapchat for around $3 billion but was turned down, so perhaps this new feature will fill the void which Snapchat was meant to fill.

Introducing Instagram Direct from Instagram on Vimeo.

[Image via digitaltrends]