Twitter now allows users to send and receive direct messages without first following one another.
Users are required to opt into this functionality by visiting Twitter’s settings menu.
“Direct Messages are the best way to take your public Twitter conversations private. 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,” says the company.
Those that have the company’s official iOS or Android app should see a new button on people’s contact pages that allows one to send a direct message.
This is not the first time Twitter has allowed users to send and receive direct messages from anyone. In the October 2013, the company similarly allowed direct messages to come from non-followers, only to once again reimpose the earlier restrictions it had on direct messages.
Seeing the success of apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, the company likely felt it needed to make a play for the messaging market, even though Twitter, with its restrictive character limits, is probably the last place people want to have an extended private conversation. “We hope these changes help you connect more easily – and directly – on Twitter with the people, causes and businesses you care about most,” says the company’s blog.
The timing of the move is also strange given that Twitter has been in the spotlight for not doing a better job of protecting its users from harassment.
We’ll have to wait and see if history repeats itself.