Once upon a time, in a social media land far, far, away… you could only send private messages to those who followed you on Twitter. That changed earlier this week, when Twitter announced that you can now receive Direct Messages (DMs) from anyone, even if you don’t follow them.
To receive DMs from anyone, go to https://twitter.com/settings/security to access your Security and privacy settings, then select the box next to “Receive Direct Messages from anyone” – it’s currently the last option in your Security and privacy settings. Twitter say that the option is rolling out, so if you don’t see it yet, check back in a week or so.
Twitter are also updating their messaging rules, so that you can reply to anyone who sends you a DM, regardless of whether or not that person follows you.
To highlight this new option, the DM icon will appear on Android and iPhone profile pages of people you can send DMs to, making it easy to see who has already turned the feature on.
To stop someone from sending you DMs, you can block the user, or unfollow them and delete the conversation. Blocking a user prevents them from sending you DMs, regardless of whether or not you have enabled the “Receive Direct Messages from anyone” setting.
So, that’s how you can opt in to receive DMs from anyone… but should you?
There’s clearly a good use case for business Twitter accounts. Customer support can require information that needs to be privately shared. Businesses can now communicate directly and privately with contacts, without needing to ask them to follow them first.
And I can also see how this option will be helpful for journalists, to keep potential stories and sources under wraps.
But for others… what’s the upside? I would love to hear why you’re opting in if you are.