While nowhere near as big as this morning’s news that Twitter will live stream the NFL’s Thursday Night Football, the company is announcing another change to its service today aimed at increasing the functionality and usage of its Direct Message (private messaging) feature. Starting today, the company is adding a new “Message” button to tweets on iOS and Android that will allow users to more easily take a public conversation private.
That is, when you click this button, you’ll be able to share the tweet via Direct Message (DM) right from your Twitter Timeline.
To be clear, the ability to share tweets privately is not new.
In fact, this feature was first introduced in late 2014 with support for desktop and mobile. Even at that time, the option wasn’t something Twitter users were exactly clamoring for — it served more as a nice addition, if anything. But Twitter now sees a need to promote this type of interaction — the transition from public conversations to private ones — as the feature’s usage is growing.
Twitter claims the number of tweets shared privately grew 200 percent in the second half of 2015. That’s faster than growth in private messaging in general, which climbed 60 percent in 2015.
According to the company, the addition of the button is in response to user feedback about the feature. Users said they wanted it to be easier to share tweets like this, Twitter claims. Before, the option was available by tapping the “More” button, then choosing “Share via Direct Message.” Now the button is right there on the tweet itself, taking up valuable real estate on mobile’s small screens.
The change is also one of many tweaks Twitter has been making to its Direct Messaging feature in recent months. The company has also introduced support for GIFs and emojis, group messaging and customer service features, and it removed the 140-character limit for DMs.
Many have said that Twitter should consider breaking out private messaging as its own application, but that has yet to come to pass. Still, Twitter insiders have continued to pitch this idea internally, a report from re/code notes. This change, while far from realizing that vision, still shows that Twitter is carefully considering the importance of private messaging in a world where its app competes with things like Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and others.
The new button is arriving today in the Twitter for iOS and Android updated applications.