Twitter just announced the launch of a new feature that lets users accept direct messages from anyone, even if they're not following the sender. Historically, two users have had to follow one another in order to exchange DMs. That will no longer be the case when a user allows others to send them.
That's right. You have to enable the feature. You're not automatically going to be opened up to private messages from strangers. So don't let people freaking out about it on Twitter or articles about people freaking out about it on Twitter fool you. It's totally opt-in, and it can only be a problem if you let it.
There's a new setting that allows you to receive direct messages from anyone. You should see the option on the Security and Privacy page of your settings once the feature has rolled out.
You'll also be able to reply to anyone who sends you a direct message, even if they don't follow you.
"Direct Messages are the best way to take your public Twitter conversations private," says Twitter senior software engineer Nhu Vuong. "Today, we’re changing how direct messaging works so that it’s even easier for you to communicate one-to-one or with a chosen group of people, anywhere in the world."
Twitter launched Group Messages in January.
"Communicating with people you may or may not know in real life just got easier," says Vuong. "Previously, if you wanted to send a Direct Message to the ice cream shop down the street about how much you love their salted caramel flavor, you’d have to ask them to follow you first. With today’s changes, the ice cream shop can opt to receive Direct Messages from anyone; so you can privately send your appreciation for the salted caramel without any barriers."
If all of this sounds familiar, it's because Twitter experimented with the feature back in 2013, before shutting it down.
To go along with the new DM functionality, Twitter also launched a new DM button on its iOS and Android apps:
The new DM changes should prove helpful to businesses who want to give consumers another way of engaging with them or simply contacting them. Twitter may not have the user base of Facebook, but Twitter users spend a lot of time on Twitter, and they also talk about brands a lot while they're there. Still, not everyone wants to say everything in a public setting, and a DM might be a more comfortable venue for some. Most businesses will likely want to activate the feature.
It would still be nice if Twitter provided an additional feature to leave that activated while blocking certain problem accounts from being able to send messages.
Image via Twitter