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Instagram Direct Messages Now Disappear

Instagram is overhauling its direct messaging feature, adding the ability to send disappearing videos and photos in group and individual messages in a bid to capture more of the ephemeral messaging phenomenon ushered in by competitor Snapchat.

The updates to Instagram Direct are rolling out for Android and iOS users—now 375 million strong, Instagram says—with version 10.16 of the Instagram app. Once you update, you'll be able to swipe left to access Direct, where you'll see a new blue camera icon to add a disappearing photo or video to an existing message thread.

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This being Instagram, you can also add effects and filters (pictured above) before you send. When you've perfected your photo or clip, you then select the people or groups you'd like to send it to. Or, you can send it to multiple people at once—up to 15 at a time—who are not part of a group chat; they'll be notified individually. Within each thread, you can see if your friend recieved, opened, replayed, or took a screenshot of your message.

While Instagram is known for its stunning photography—and creative filters to transform your photos into stunning works of art if they don't look so good initially—Snapchat pioneered a different approach, which involves sending spur-of-the-moment captures that disappear after your friends read them. Instagram has been known to rip off Snapchat before, so this week's update to Direct doesn't come as much of a surprise.

Much of the rest of Instagram's direct messages feature, rolled out in 2013, is unchanged: you can still send posts, texts, hashtags, locations, and photos from your library to both friends and people you don't follow.

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