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Instagram unveils live-streaming feature and Snapchat-style disappearing message function


By Rebecca Stewart, Trends Editor

November 21, 2016 | 4 min read

Instagram is muscling in on the live-streaming trend and taking on rival Snapchat by updating its app with a familiar looking disappearing private messaging function.

Instagram Live Snapchat

Instagram unveils live-streaming feature and Snapchat-style disappearing message function

The image and video-sharing platform has made several key changes to its core product in a bid to keep pace with competitors like Snapchat and Facebook, the first of which will allow users to broadcast live within its ephemeral content service, Instagram Stories.

Live video within Stories is being rolled out from today and will let Instagrammers stream directly from their phone. The feature is similar to sister company Facebook's Live function but varies slightly in that videos will disappear the second the broadcast ends rather than being saved to the app.

Meanwhile, the second update comprises of a disappearing private messaging feature which will give subscribers the opportunity to send disappearing photos, and videos directly to groups and individual friends via Instagram's Direct Message function.

Instagram says that 300 million people use its existing private messaging service each month, so it's little wonder it is giving the tool the ephemeral treatment in a bid to keep eyes within its walls and away from Snapchat.

Instagram product boss Kevin Weil told Re/code that the new features were designed to make Instagram more personal rather than providing an alternative to traditional TV. He also confirmed that unlike Facebook, Instagram won't partner with brands or celebrities to encourage people to use its live product.

"We want Instagram to be a place where you share all of your moments,” Weil added, “[That includes] the more private moments or the inside jokes that are relevant not for your entire Instagram following but for a smaller group of folks."

At the end of last year, Instagram opened up its ad offering to all businesses big and small; a move that has paid off dividends for the social network with eMarketer forecasting that its sales this year are expected to triple to $1.5bn.

Over the past 12 months, however, the Facebook-owned app has faced increasing competition from Snapchat for users and as such has aggressively upped the tools it provides to both users and businesses. When Instagram Stories first launched a few months ago observers were quick to point out the similarities to Snapchat, but the move looks to have paid off for Instagram which claims to have drawn more than 100 million users per-day to Stories - although, this is still a lesser figure than Snapchat's reported 150 million daily active user count.

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