Twitter faced immediate backlash Monday morning after users learned about an upgrade that would remove restrictions on direct messaging (DM), which some say opens the door for trolling, just days after the social media network promised to help stop abuse.
The new feature allows users to send private messages to one another regardless of whether they follow each other, according to CNET. Previously, a Twitter user had to follow a person in order to receive DMs from that person.
Now, critics argue, random people can flood users’ private Twitter inboxes with negative messages:
This is not an upgrade, @twitter. Allowing non-followers to send direct messages will lead to a spike in harassment.
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) April 20, 2015
Imagine trolls storming your DMs. It could happen with this — Goldie Taylor (@goldietaylor) April 20, 2015
In related news, I will no longer be checking my DMs.
— Vlada Gelman (@VladaGelman) April 20, 2015
— hellresidentNY (@hellresidentNY) April 20, 2015
The move comes just days after Twitter executive Vijaya Gadde published an op-ed in the Washington Post asserting the social media company’s dedication to balancing free expression with protection from abuse. Twitter’s @support account sent a link to “rules and best practices” for following other users and how the company defines “aggressive following.”
However, early reports did not clarify that the new feature defaults to “Off.” Therefore, a user would have to choose to open his or her DMs to the general public in order to receive what would otherwise be considered unsolicited messages.
Verified accounts have always had this feature, as well as the option to toggle it on or off.
Before everyone freaks out: There’s a HUGE difference between “anyone can DM anyone” and you can CHOOSE to accept DMs from anyone. — Joe Adalian (@TVMoJoe) April 20, 2015
Despite the backlash, some Twitter users found humor in the situation:
I will be opting in to Twitter DMs from ya’ll at 4:20 p.m. today *exceeds Twitter trending joke limit, account deactivated*
— Shane Dingman (@shanedingman) April 20, 2015
New twitter upgrade gives everyone your home address and a list of your fears — sweaty five dollars (@iscoff) April 20, 2015
sliding into your DMs like pic.twitter.com/8mybNdoqUq
— Alex Fitzpatrick (@AlexJamesFitz) April 20, 2015