The rumours were right: Instagram is getting into private messaging, with a side-order of Snapchat-style ephemerality. The new feature is called Instagram Direct, and pitched as a way to send photo and video messages to specific friends or groups of friends. “After sending, you’ll be able to find out who’s seen your photo or video, see who’s liked it and watch your recipients commenting in real time as the conversation unfolds,” explained the company in a blog post. The new feature is already live in Instagram’s iOS and Android apps. It’s partly a defensive move against the growth of messaging apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat, with Instagram saying yesterday that it now has 75m daily active users. Although the company didn’t make much of it in its launch event, one feature is that people will be able to delete messages they’ve sent using Instagram Direct, which will then delete them from the recipients’ phones too. From a Music Ally perspective, it’s also interesting that Instagram suggested brands (and thus bands) can use the new feature to collect images for contests – although with many using hashtags for that purpose now, the ability to message the winners privately could be useful.