Mere hours after Twitter announced a tweak that allows users to send photos in their private messages, Instagram released the details of its own messaging update: namely, the new ability to send a photo or video directly to a follower or someone you follow—with text attached.
The parallel encroachments onto SMS territory represent a social media shift toward more customized interactions between individuals, as opposed to mostly-public feeds, and a push to claim a larger slice of day-to-day communication.
Unlike Snapchat, the photos exchanged Instagram Direct won’t automatically delete, though you will be notified when another user views them. But perhaps the most compelling aspect is the option to choose multiple recipients (15 at most), which can only mean one thing: group sexts.
Even before Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom pitched the idea to the public, observers registered their lack of awe. The details didn’t impress much either.
My prediction for tomorrow's Instagram event: Systrom sounds basically insane as he tries to sell mobile messaging as a brand new concept— John Herrman (@jwherrman) December 11, 2013
I am sincerely happy that someone finally invented a way to send photos directly to other humans— matt (@mattbuchanan) December 12, 2013
Oh, and about those groups Instagram wants you to share content and have conversations with? You can’t curate your own. According to Business Insider, “Instagram learns who you share with most often and bubbles their names to the top.” You also can’t just send a text—the initial message has to contain video or a photo.
The good news? You won’t be barraged by nostalgically tinted dick pics from weirdos you don’t follow. Well, that’s not entirely true—you’ll just get a “pending request” notification and have to decide whether accepting the mystery photo is worth the risk. Ignore the photo, on the other hand, and you’ll never receive another from that person.
After all, the most important part of social media these days is filtering out the riffraff.