Today, the world caught wind of a new plan by Twitter to enable all users to receive direct messages from anybody, regardless of whether or not you’re following them.
Twitter’s direct messaging system usually only lets you send private, one-to-one messages to users who follow you on the social network. This is intended to cut down on spam and harassment, since you can’t send any messages to somebody who hasn’t already shown interest in hearing what you have to say.
But by letting users remove that requirement, Twitter opens up the doors for anybody to say anything they want to whoever they want, at any time.
This has made a lot of people on Twitter very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
Twitter Rolls Out New Harassment Features
— mcc (@mcclure111) April 20, 2015
lol my fav is when dudes tweet “relax” about awful twitter changes because they don’t deal with twitter harassment on the daily.
— allisonkilkenny (@allisonkilkenny) April 20, 2015
When literally every woman I follow thinks a new feature will make the harassment problem worse, twitter miiiiiiiiiight want to reconsider.
— Sean Highkin (@highkin) April 20, 2015
Given that CEO Dick Costolo himself has admitted that Twitter has a problem with online harassment, people are pretty upset thinking that anybody with an axe to grind will be able to send them private messages.
However, this isn’t true unless users want it to be. Users will have to turn the feature on themselves.
Back in 2013, Twitter tested this very same feature, but removed it quickly. That time, once users opted in to get messages from anybody, they lost the option to turn it off, and they can still receive messages to this day.
This time around, that won’t be the case. You can opt out of the feature any time.
From Twitter’s perspective, this option is potentially good for advertisers and brands, since it makes it a little easier for customer support representatives to talk to users and customers.
Twitter likely sees this optional setting as a first step towards maturing Twitter direct messages as a competitor to more fully-featured apps Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.