As the battle among would-be Twitter rivals continues, one of the smaller apps to vie for Twitter’s (now X) fleeing user base, T2, has added an in-demand feature that even Meta’s Threads doesn’t yet have: DMs. The company recently announced it added support for direct messages, which has been among users’ top requests, it said.
The addition differentiates T2 from buzzier Twitter competitors like Threads, Bluesky and, to some extent, Mastodon, where Direct Messages work a little differently — they are effectively just posts that have the “direct” visibility selected but are not end-to-end encrypted.
Similarly, T2’s direct messages also aren’t end-to-end encrypted, but they do at least allow users to connect more privately on the app. Of course, sensitive conversations should generally not be shared on new social media apps but on dedicated privacy apps, like Signal or even WhatsApp, which has prioritized encryption.
With the rollout of DMs on T2 on July 26th, users can now find a new link in the app’s sidebar. The company explains users can control who’s allowed to DM them via the Settings tab in T2. From there, you can choose to allow DMs from anyone on the app, only from accounts you follow or you can turn off receiving DMs altogether.
The company said it opted not to encrypt direct messages so it can combat spam and harassment in these conversations. It even built in nudges in DMs to automatically detect possible insults or other threatening behavior, then nudge the sender to change their message. Nudges like this can be somewhat effective. Twitter, pre-Elon Musk, had once used nudges in an attempt to get users to tone down their replies. It said that 34% of people revised their initial reply after seeing the prompt, or chose not to send the reply at all. Plus, after being prompted once, people then composed 11% fewer offensive replies in the future, on average.
T2 was founded by Twitter and Google veterans, including co-founder Sarah Oh, Twitter’s former human rights advisor, and Gabor Cselle, who had sold his prior companies to Twitter and Google. The company’s goal has been to build an alternative to Twitter that had an increased focus on trust and safety — or, as Gabor’s profile reads, “a kinder, safer public square.”
That’s an area where another Twitter rival, Bluesky, has since stumbled. The latter has been under attack for moderation missteps that saw it failing to crack down on bigotry and even allowing usernames with racial slurs to slip through in recent days.
Bluesky, however, has seen its app installed 1 million times to date, outpacing the number of invites available to its still private network. T2, meanwhile, continues to operate as a web app but is optimized for mobile screens. Its user base should reach around 15,000 by the end of the week, the company says. T2 has not yet announced any concrete plans around decentralization — meaning using a protocol like ActivityPub, which powers Mastodon, and soon Threads, or Bluesky’s AT Protocol, in order to connect with other social networks.
Currently, the team views decentralization as a major hurdle to moderation and building a lasting, stable and civil community, we understand, as users can move to other servers when they don’t want to abide by stricter moderation rules.