This week, Twitter added photo-sharing to its direct messaging functionality, and Instagram gave its users the ability to share messages plus photos and videos with a single person or small group. One one level, these services are merely trying to keep up with a host of new and wildly popular chat programs. But we could also be seeing the beginning of a new and important trend. Multiple companies are racing to win the messaging game and be the platform where you share your private messages (as GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram points out, no one will completely own the space). After years watching a race to make everything public, we could be seeing companies, large and small, responding to our desire to make things a little more private.

+ New Republic’s Noreen Malone on the change of direction: “It’s a shift away from the public-broadcasting instinct that drove the creation of so many social networks just a few years ago. For years, the social Internet seemed determined to strip away the possibility of privacy. Now, it seems to be reversing course.”

+ A mall in Bangkok is this year’s most Instagrammed place in the world. I’m guessing some of those shots would be better off private.