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(Credit: Instagram)

Instagram Stories has become one of the main avenues for celebrities and regular users alike to share videos with fans and friends. But if you're a little camera shy and would like to keep your videos personal, Instagram has a new feature just for you.

With the new "Close Friends" feature, which goes into effect today for all users, people can make Instagram Stories and only share them with a select group of friends. Once you have compiled your list of Close Friends, you have the option of sending Instagram Stories directly to them or adding others to the list at a later date.

"Instagram Stories has become the place to express yourself and share everyday moments, but our community has grown and sometimes what you want to share isn't for everyone," Instagram said in a blog post on their website.

"With Close Friends, you have the flexibility to share more personal moments with a smaller group that you choose."

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Instagram has been testing the feature for nearly a year and a half, but today it is officially being rolled out to all iOS and Android users. They originally called it "Favorites" and let certain users test it out in June and July of last year. Many other websites and blogs have noted throughout the testing period that the move was in direct response to the "Finstagram" trend among younger users. According to Instagram nearly 400 million people use Instagram Stories per day, but it's harder to share content when you worry that it might be seen by someone who it's not intended for.

Over the last year it has become popular for Instagramers to create fake Instagram accounts, or "Finstas," so that they can share Stories that they'd like to stay between them and a select group of friends. Many users, even those who aren't teenagers, have noted that as their friend groups expand on certain platforms, it becomes difficult to know what is appropriate to share and what should be kept private. For some, knowing that their boss or a person they met once while traveling are watching personal Instagram Stories can be worrying and lead to them sharing less or more bland content.

Instagram openly acknowledged this at the TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin 2018 panel this week, with Instagram director of product Robby Stein saying, "To really be yourself and connect and be connected to your best friends, you need your own place."

"As you add more and more people [on any social network], you start not to know them. That's obviously going to change the things that you're sharing and it makes it even harder to form every deep connections with your closest friends because you're basically curating for the largest possible distribution," he added.

To access the feature, all you have to do is go to your Instagram profile and click on "Close Friends" in the side menu. Once you've compiled your list of friends, you will see this close friends list before sharing any Instagram Story you've created. No one can ask to be added to any of your lists and users will not know if they've been taken off a list.

But if you are on a list, you will suddenly see a green badge on their story and a green ring around their profile photo, meaning you are one of their "Close Friends."

Although Instagram said they were thinking about expanding the feature to businesses or celebrities with certain fan clubs, they have not built that functionality out yet. But for obvious reasons, this would be an easy way for people to set up special content for specific lists of users.

Many other social networking sites have tried versions of this because this phenomenon happens to most platforms once people have used them long enough. People began to make fake Facebook profiles or profiles with specific friend lists once their parents, coworkers or bosses joined the social media site. But almost all of the things other social media sites tried failed, as it became too cumbersome to create multiple lists of friends and know what content to share with what list.

Some commentators at Disrupt Berlin asked Instagram whether the feature would allow hateful or abusive content to flourish in private groups, but Stein said their beta testing showed no evidence of this. As Instagram's "Close Friends" feature rolls out worldwide, we'll see how users react.

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Takeaways

  1. Instagram is created a "Close Friends" feature that allows you to create Instagram Stories and only share them with a select group of friends you have chosen.
  2. The move is a direct response to the "Finsta" trend of users creating fake Instagram profiles so that they can share more private Stories with specific friends and not the general public.

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Jonathan is a Contributing Writer for CNET's Download.com. He's a freelance journalist based in New York City. He recently returned to the United States after reporting from South Africa, Jordan, and Cambodia since 2013.