Twitter has added a new privacy setting that allows users to receive direct messages from anyone, regardless of whether they follow each other or not.
Users can now send and receive direct messages to and from anyone, provided they enable the feature in the settings menu. Previously, direct messages could only be sent between two parties (or a group) if they followed each other, that’s no longer the case.
A new direct message icon will appear on profile pages of people who have enabled the setting (if you’re viewing their profile on Android or Apple AAPL -0.56%’s iOS). For those who don’t want to receive unsolicited messages, the setting is automatically turned off.
It appears Twitter is aiming this at businesses and providing them with another way of communicating with consumers. For example, a company might want to send out coupons or promotional material to consumers. Or, perhaps, consumers might be attracted to the idea of complaining about a particular service in confidence.
Although there may be unintended consequences for brands when deciding to enable the setting or not. Speaking to Adweek, Dan Swartz, svp of digital marketing, media and analytics at Upshot Agency explained further:
“Brands must expand Twitter private messaging into a continuing infrastructure of social platforms [that] they need to actively manage in order to seamlessly connect with consumers,” Swartz said. “If a brand decides not to activate their private DM functionality, it sends a bad signal to consumers that they are not interested in what they have to say.”