A public service message: How you can fight back against Twitter "Direct Messages from anyone"
Onsite, SlashGear's Chris Burns will show you how to get to this box (click to enlarge) and how to double-check and if necessary fix your Direct Messages setting.
TwitterWorld appears to be all atwitter over a feature that apparently has been long talked about but is only now being gradually introduced: "Direct Messages from anyone." Now, I don't really know what exactly this means, and I don't really care, but apparently lots of others do, so I thought we should take note of what the heck it is and what you can do about it, if you feel the need to.
First let's have TechCrunch's Sarah Perez explain this important development (links onsite):
Twitter Now Lets You Opt In To Receive Direct Messages From Anyone
Twitter has for years tested a feature that would allow anyone to opt in to receive direct messages from other users on its platform, even if the accounts weren’t following each other as per earlier requirements. This setting was rolled out more broadly to a portion of Twitter’s user base in 2013, but never became an option for the general public. That changes today, says Twitter, which announced this morning that anyone on its network can now opt to accept direct messages from any other Twitter user.
Previously, in order to receive a direct message from another person, you would have to be following that user on Twitter. For some public figures, and especially for journalists, that restriction made it difficult to communicate more privately. For reporters, it could also potentially tip people off about one’s sources, since users would have to engage in public tweets asking to get a follow back so they could send that direct message in the first place.
In the past, Twitter users including brands and some verified users have been able to, in some cases, enable a setting that would open up their Direct Message inbox to anyone. But now any Twitter user can turn this option on for themselves if they choose. (Twitter says the feature is rolling out now , so if you don’t yet see it in your Settings, just check back in a bit.)
Related to this change, the company is also updating its messaging rules so you can reply to incoming DMs regardless of whether that person follows you in return.
And to better highlight the newly added option, Twitter says that a new Direct Message button will appear on profile pages on both Android and iPhone. This button will only appear on the profiles of people you can send Direct Messages to, making it more obvious with a glance who’s turned the feature on already.
Finally, if someone who has the “Receive Direct Messages from anyone setting” switched on begins to receive spam or abuse, they can still block the abuser on Twitter in order to stop that account from being able to DM them.
The updates come at a time when Twitter has been focusing heavily on improving the Direct Messaging for its users, in light of a shift in the mobile application ecosystem which sees private communication apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp significantly growing their respective user bases and increasing their users’ engagement. Snapchat reportedly has some 200 million monthly users. WhatsApp recently announced 800 million users. Twitter, however, has 288 million monthly actives.
The company may be hoping that by improving its private messaging functionality, it can grow the number of users who register for accounts as opposed to those who more passively use its service only to view tweets. In recent months, Twitter has rolled out a number of changes to DM’s, including support for group DM’s and the ability to share public tweets via DM’s, for instance.
As to why Twitter has made the decision to finally introduce this setting more publicly after all these years, another answer may have been hinted at in the company blog post, it seems. Here, Twitter offers an example of how this feature could be used by businesses, noting that if users wanted to tweet feedback to a local ice cream shop, they would first have to ask the shop to follow them. Now business could simply adjust a setting in order to hear from all their customers – even if those customers didn’t want to be publicly tweeting about their thoughts and opinions.
We had previously heard that this use case for brands and businesses was something Twitter wanted to focus on in the near future, as it would allow users and brands to communicate directly and privately without the hassle of the following request. This is important because many businesses use Twitter for customer support, and that can sometimes require the exchange of personal and private information, including financial info, which, for obvious reasons, needs to take place over DMs.
AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT
Meanwhile, SlashGear's Chris Burns asks, "Worried Twitter's newest feature 'direct message from anyone' will put a kink in your private life?" He says, "You're not the only one."
Earlier today Twitter's update and blast on their newest feature update made more than one social network explode in a fury of misdirected madness. The key to this puzzle wasn't that this new feature was coming, however, but that it wasn't turned on by default. This feature, as it turns out, is something you need to turn on for it to work.The good news, says Chris, is that "Twitter has this feature turned off by default." But he's evidently not the all-trusting type, our Chris, and in case you aren't either, you may be interested in his step-by-step directions "If you want to make certain you don't have 'Direct Messages from anyone' active." All you have to do, he says, is "follow these steps precisely."
While this may be a sign of things to come for Twitter, long rumored to be creating their own separate private messenger service, today's impact is a public relations nightmare. Not that the crew responsible for releasing information did anything wrong - they did fine - it's just that the public took the information and ran with it in completely the wrong direction.
Instead of focusing on how neat it was that Twitter was opening up doors for those that wished to be more open to all users, they saw the potential for chaos.
Imagine your doors open to anyone, sending you messages indiscriminately at all times!
Chris notes too that you may not find the "Direct Messages from anyone" option available, since the feature "is rolling out this week" and is "not meant to be out for everyone all at once."
Android and iOS users will likely find this option popping up later this week in their respective Android and iOS apps for Twitter. This feature will be appearing in web browsers on desktop machines across the world starting this afternoon.He also provides a timeline for "additional Twitter bits" (onsite each of these is a link; again, I don't know what most of these mean, and I don't care):
Story TimelineHey, it's all part of the service.
Twitter is dropping the 'Discover' tab
Twitter for iOS now supports slow motion video uploads
Twitter pushes for celebs to abandon Meerkat for Periscope
Twitter's new homepage tries to reel newbies in
Yahoo Mail adds LinkedIn, Twitter info to Contact Cards feature
New Twitter tools could make any app a Twitter app
Twitter uses 'the Force' to bring out new Star Wars emojis
Twitter patents hint at new security API, SDK for apps