Twitter has pushed out a feature update that is extremely useful for journalists like myself, and anyone else who hopes to use Twitter to communicate both publicly and privately. The social network now lets you receive Direct Messages from any of your followers, regardless of whether you follow them or not.
This eliminates the age-old hassle of receiving @-replies that ask you to follow-back so that someone can DM you some information or a message of questionable value. Sometimes, it even seems like users treat this as a DM honey-pot – i.e., flaunt some potentially useful information in hopes of scoring a permanent follower in return. Now, you’ll be able to receive DMs from anyone who follows you, so long as you go into your Twitter account’s main settings page and check the box that allows it.
Limiting DMs to those you followed served a couple of purposes: For one, it encouraged network growth, by providing a reason to follow others back, but more importantly, it limited the amount of spam you could receive via private message. DMs were kept relatively spotless, except when phishing scams inevitably percolated, resulting in weird messages in your Twitter inbox from people you trust, or in cases of bad judgement in terms of who users themselves chose to follow.
Enabling this option could potentially mean open season on your Twitter inbox, and that’s probably why it’s off by default – but if dealing with a potential influx of spam is worth opening up a new channel of communication for you, then this is a welcome change indeed.