Instagram, owned by Facebook, rolled out a new service that allows users to privately exchange texts, photo and videos.

With the introduction of Instagram Direct, the company is following in the footsteps of rivals such as Snapchat that already offer targeted sharing.

Until now, Instagram users have not been able to selectively control access to the photos and videos they post.

"Sometimes you want to be able to share not with everyone, but just with a specific group," Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said at an event in New York to present the new feature.

In business for three years, Instagram has more than 150 million users worldwide.

Facebook spent $1 billion to acquire Instagram in September 2012. EFE