Matthew HughesFormer TNW Reporter
Matthew Hughes is a journalist from Liverpool, England. His interests include security, startups, food, and storytelling. Follow him on Twi Matthew Hughes is a journalist from Liverpool, England. His interests include security, startups, food, and storytelling. Follow him on Twitter.
“Hi Matt, did you get my messages? I’ve been trying to see if you’d like to cover our new product launch exclusively.” I hadn’t. Curious, I scoured my inbox and checked my Twitter DMs. Nada. Not even a peep.
But then I saw it.
What. The. Fuck.
Well, this is certainly new. It seems that Twitter has taken a leaf out of Facebook’s… er … book, had introduced a ‘message requests’ tag on its mobile app, where messages sent by people you don’t know go to die.
Now, there’s some sensible and reasonable arguments why this is a thing. Those are totally valid, and we’ll get to them later.
But we can’t skirt around the fact that — for a lot of people — Twitter isn’t a place where you go to share GIFs and fling abuse at politicians you disagree with. It’s a place where people build working relations and make connections. It’s a bit like LinkedIn, but slightly less pointless, and with fewer suffocatingly smug thinkpieces.
Journalists, for example, often have their DMs open in order to receive pitches. This is a strategy that has earned dividends for myself, as well as Wired senior writer Ashley Feinberg.
This is honestly the first good thing twitter has ever done pic.twitter.com/56rTIcwiuo
— Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg) June 5, 2017
Message Requests takes those vital communiques (hello friend) and locks them in a corner where you can’t see them unless you actively look for them. DMs that land in this folder also don’t show up on your phone as a notification, which really hampers your ability to respond to stuff in real-time.
That might work for some people. Just not for me. I can barely keep on top of my email. The odds of me remembering to check this additional inbox is slim-to-none.
I wouldn’t mind if I could opt-out of this, but that’s sadly not the case. Unfortunately, this has limited Twitter’s use for me as a tool for work.
Of course, there’s a flip side. A lot of people — most of my colleagues, actually — are pretty happy with this. Dimitar Mihov (you’ll know him as Mix) welcomes it, as he was being inundated with spam from record producers and musicians, and his block finger was getting sore.
Matt Navarra, our social media head honcho, is pretty apathetic, and thinks that for the majority of people, it won’t be an issue.
“[It] depends how open your DM’s are and how much crap you get. I suspect most people don’t get much action in their DM inbox anyway for this to be that useful,” he said.
There’s also an argument to be made that this is a reasonable measure to fight abuse on the platform, which is rampant. If your job forces you to open your DMs to the Internet’s biggest peanut gallery and you start getting hateful messages, at least you aren’t getting notifications on your phone.
Get the TNW newsletter
Get the most important tech news in your inbox each week.