Twitter Now Lets Anyone Send You a Direct Message

Users on Twitter no longer need to follow someone else's account to be able to send that person a private direct message, under a change announced by the company on Monday. Instead, people with Twitter accounts can now specify in their settings whether they want to be able to receive private messages from anyone, anywhere.

Twitter's update to direct messaging also lets users privately reply to anyone, whether they follow that person or not. Mobile users on Android and iOS devices who enable the feature will now also see a "Direct Message" button on their profile pages, as well as on the profiles of other Twitter accounts.

The changes are designed to help people connect more easily and directly with others on Twitter, said Senior Software Engineer Nhu Vuong in a blog post on Twitter. As many observers have noted, however, the new capabilities seem to run counter to recent pledges from Twitter to do more to protect users from unwanted comments and online harassment.

Response to Abuse 'Sucks'

In February, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo acknowledged in an internal memo to employees that his company "sucks" at "dealing with abuse and trolls." Many women in particular -- including the late comic Robin Williams' daughter, Zelda, and feminist writer/media critic Anita Sarkeesian -- have publicly called attention to the excessive abuse they have received via the social network. (Williams eventually deleted her Twitter account to avoid harassment.)

Last month, Twitter announced that it would be making it easier for users to report online threats to law enforcement officials via e-mail. Other recent updates have included streamlined reporting for users experiencing harassment and new, behind-the-scenes enforcement actions against those who violate Twitter's rules and policies.

Twitter said it will suspend accounts "when appropriate" if users are found to be violating its rules. Its...

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