The scoop on the Instagram Direct feature

A few days ago, Instagram released an update with something called “Instagram Direct”, a way for users to send pictures privately to one person. Or a group of people. Either way, the “direct” feature gives you the option of sending photos only to specified recipients .

You choose your option at the top of the screen after a photo has been uploaded and filtered.


Receiving a photo looks like this:

1. Get a standard push notification from Instagram saying, “so-and-so sent you a photo.”


2. Once opened, you can like and comment on the photo as normal, difference being that it is just a conversation between you and the sender, not available to all of Instagram.


3. The direct tab keeps track of all photos sent and received by you.


K. So.

What does Instagram Direct mean for teens?

It means there is no cause for panic.

It is simply a business move.

A brief history…

Facebook purchased Instagram in April 2012 for $1 billion. Facebook also tried to buy SnapChat for $3 billion last month, but was turned down by its developers.

The first takeaway is that Facebook is constantly trying to take over the social media world.

The second takeaway is that with the declined offer by SnapChat, Facebook made a business decision to compete in the SnapChat market with their own app, Instagram.

Enter: Instagram Direct.

Any way for Instagram/Facebook to keep users within their own app is a plus. (It’s why Instagram added video when Vine started becoming popular.) It’s simply a battle of social media giants to retain and enhance user engagement.

Hide Feature

I’m sure there are many-a-people writing about Instagram Direct’s ability to hide photos and, yes, you can hide photos never to be seen again. They aren’t set on a 10-second-max timer like they are on SnapChat, but you can still hide (read: delete) the photos.


{Insert hyperventilation about the possiblity of sexting.}

Here’s my 2-cents (two scents? 2 since? I’m not sure I’ve ever written that out before and now I’m second-guessing the phrase. Moving on.):

Because Instagram is trying to compete in the SnapChat market, it makes sense that they would add the “hide” feature. That said, the photo doesn’t auto-delete, you have to go searching for how to remove the picture. I don’t think sexting is Instagram’s main intent here (glaring at you, SnapChat inventors).

But, more importantly, let’s remember the bigger picture at hand: If your kids want to send naked pictures and hide the evidence, they will find ways to do it whether it be through SnapChat, Instagram Direct, or self-destructing snail mail.

This is not a social media problem, this is a teen hormone/poor-decision-making problem. Keep that in mind.

Bottom Line

The thing for me with this new feature is that…there is no thing. There’s no real news here.

As long as you’re having the bigger conversation with your kids – sticking to their friend base and newsfeed (porn being a huge player in the “explore” tab), only following people they know, making wise decisions about what photos they share in general – this update is nothing to freak out about. It’s yet another outlet with same functionality your teens have had access to for a while now. And, given the option, I’d always point teens to Instagram over its competitors. It’s cleaner (for the most part) and much easier for parents to manage and track.

But that’s just my opinion.

I want to hear from you.

What are your thoughts? Are your kids using the direct feature?


for more info on Instagram, check out this post. for Vine, check this one out. for info on SnapChat, here you go.
And special thanks to my mom for helping me out with my examples. She’s the most tech-savvy grandma around.

9 thoughts on “The scoop on the Instagram Direct feature

    1. Sarah Brooks Sarah Brooks

      Mmmmm not sure. I’ve not seen it I don’t think. I know on mine, especially in group texts, it’ll show each recipients’ icon with a small circle in the bottom left that shows if they’ve a) seen the pic, b) liked the pic, or c) commented on the pic. Not sure what the M is, though. I’ll be looking for it.

      1. Tj

        I’m really sorry but I just noticed to day that the m was part of his name…. Like one of those I-phone caricatures they have.

  1. Beckey

    My daughter has blocked a person, but somehow is suddenly receiving activity notices when her friends comment on for a direct message that the blocked person sent out. How does this happen? It is my understanding that you choose who to send the message to, but you cannot tag or add anyone else to that direct message.

    1. Kim

      I also would like to know this.
      Another question on this matter. I keep getting a new blank pic whenever I comment on an existing dm. I try to comment on it bc there isn’t any comments either but it will not send. So I delete it but when I comment again on another dm then it appears again. What’s this?

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