It appears Instagram is hoping to boost usage of its Direct messaging feature by offering privacy controls not found elsewhere. Now, when a user sends a photo or video from the Instagram Direct camera, they can decide whether the recipient can view it only once, replay it temporarily, or keep it in the chat conversation.
That wasn't the case before, as users were only allowed to temporarily replay content within Direct before it vanished. Snapchat has a similar replay feature but doesn't offer users a way to make content permanent.
Instagram Unveils New Replay Options For Direct Messages
The move is crucial in a lot of ways, chiefly because it'll most likely help in encouraging users to send more sensitive content to other users and have the option for it not to stay within a thread permanently. This, of course, is a feature inherently based on Snapchat's whole premise — ephemerality, or the impermanence of posts.
Meanwhile, Instagram Direct users can also share content and set it to permanent viewing, so users can flip through their past chats and take trips down memory lane. Again, it's all about options, and Instagram is giving users a lot of them, perhaps in a bid to prevent them from turning to other apps — wink, wink Snapchat.
Instagram told TechCrunch that the new "keep in chat" option was launched last month after rolling out the other replay options in November 2017. Another spokesperson also said that all these updates aim to "give people more control of what they share with friends in Direct." Those who'll send a Direct message and enable replay will be able to see if the recipient views their content message multiple times.
While it does give Instagram users more control over what they share and how they share it, it's easy to look at this move as a way for the Facebook-owned company to further steal Snapchat's spotlight. Earlier this year, leaked metrics suggested that the messaging feature of Snapchat is its most popular, with the average number of snaps uploaded each day continuing to increase.
Facebook Copying Snapchat
But for Facebook, copying Snapchat isn't new at all. It's been doing that for a long time now, borrowing the app's ephemeral status update concept and turning it into Stories, its own brand of disappearing content. Both Instagram Stories and WhatsApp Status — an implementation of Stories, but on WhatsApp — now have more than 300 million daily active users, which a lot more than what Snapchat can boast.
The conclusion of this copying charade remains to be determined, but it's safe to assume that Snapchat needs all the help it can get, being that it's facing mountainous challenges as a relatively new public company, and Facebook's no-shame copying game isn't helping at all.