Twitter’s direct DM test is a terrible idea

Twitter is exploring a new way to send DMs on iOS, and it involves allowing users to slide a link on your tweets into your inbox, bypassing the DM button on your profile. The platform says this makes it easier to “start a conversation” from your timeline – but you can probably see how this could go very, very wrong.

As public defender Eliza Orlins points out, offering a shortcut to your DMs can make users even more susceptible to harassment. Instead of having to click through to your profile to get to your inbox, users can share their thoughts via private message without ever leaving the timeline (and just as easily as they could reply to your tweet).

It’s hard to see exactly who could benefit from this feature – close friends may want a quick way to DM each other, but I think most people would be comfortable going to a friend’s Twitter profile to send them a message, or simply continue an existing conversation from their inbox.

Giving users a shortcut to someone’s private messages could open a Pandora’s box of trouble. Twitter already knows that annoying DMs can be a problem, which is why in 2019 it rolled out a feature that automatically filters out abusive DMs. While Twitter rolled out a Messenger-style pop-up tab across the web in 2020, it actually makes sense — unlike this new DM button, it doesn’t really give you a shortcut to DM someone in direct response to a tweet. , but instead lets you pick from your existing conversations (or type in the username of the person you want to DM).

If this new DM button ever leaves the testing phase, it’s not clear if users will have an option to disable the feature for security and privacy reasons. The edge reached out to Twitter with a request for comment, but didn’t hear back immediately.

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