A little over a month ago Twitter rolled out a new setting in the web interface allowing you to choose whether to receive direct messages (DM) from any of your followers. Traditionally, the micro-blogging service has only allowed users who follow each other to send direct messages back and forth to one another.
The change has allowed Twitter users to elect to receive direct messages from any follower, regardless of whether or not they’re following the person back. Unfortunately, the company has now inexplicably removed that option, seemingly without an explanation…
Actually, there’s a (somewhat) cryptic explanation behind the move.
I asked Twitter why the “accept DMs from anyone” feature is gone, and all I got was a link to this post: https://t.co/HMfDnHiEn6
— Mathew Ingram (@mathewi) November 18, 2013
When a user asked Twitter why the ‘accept DMs from anyone’ feature has been pulled, the company pointed him to a blog post on Twitter Experiments, its standard practice in response to questions about feature removals.
The post explains:
You may see some features that your friend doesn’t see, or vice versa. This is all in service of making Twitter the best it can be. We appreciate your help in doing that, so thank you.
“We also experiment with features that may never be released to everyone who uses Twitter,” the post reads.
So, there you have it: that feature was actually a Twitter Experiment so there was no guarantee whatsoever of it being officially supported to begin with. By the way, Twitter tests various features with small groups of its 200 million users “before determining what we’ll release”.
I imagine privacy-minded users will jump with joy over the removal.
On the flip side, brands won’t be supportive of the move as the ability to receive DMs from anyone was a great convenience for companies needing to contact customers privately regarding contests, or customer service issues.
I’ve done some digging (on Twitter) and it seems that at least some individuals who had the option enabled are still able to receive DMs from non-followers.
Your mileage may vary and I’m eager to hear about your experience in the comments.
Are you sad that this useful little feature is a goner now?