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Instagram tests standalone messaging app called Direct

It sounds a lot like Facebook's Messenger app.

Instagram may lose its messaging feature as it gets broken out into a separate app. 

Instagram is taking a page out of parent Facebook's playbook. 

The photo-centric social network is testing a standalone app devoted to messaging called Direct, a company spokeswoman confirmed on Thursday. The tests were first spotted by The Verge. The move is potentially the first step to Instagram shutting off the messaging part of its core app. 

"We want Instagram to be a place for all of your moments, and private sharing with close friends is a big part of that," said a company spokeswoman. "To make it easier and more fun for people to connect in this way, we are beginning to test Direct - a camera-first app that connects seamlessly back to Instagram."

So far, Direct is being rolled out in Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey and Uruguay. 

This is similar to how Facebook stripped out the messaging aspect of its core app and introduced Messenger as its IM platform. 

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