The mechanics that Twitter's 'Direct Message' system has been using since launch fall into the category of 'love-it-or-hate-it'. The reason for that is that in order to receive a message from a follower, you must be following them. The problem here is obvious: You might not want to 'friend farm'; or, you may simply wish to keep your 'following' list clean so you only see posts on the site that you consider to be relevant.
But picture a scenario where you're a legitimate user needing to get in touch with someone on the service - privately. The only way to ping them if they're not following you is to give them an @Username shout - hardly ideal when your intent is a private conversation.
Another scenario: Contests. The go-to contest idea today is to get fans to "like" or follow your company on a social network; the "likes" are in effect votes. Well, what if you win? The company has no choice but to follow you, which may not be kosher with corporate policies; or, the company may have a specific list of followed accounts that shouldn't be altered.
Well, these scenarios and others are going to be mended soon, thanks to a new option that's being rolled-out as we speak. After going into your account settings (the Gear icon up top), a new option under 'Content' will be made available, allowing you to receive messages from accounts you don't follow. This right here fixes the aforementioned problems entirely.
One of the reasons Twitter had the DM mechanics it did is to prevent spam, or unsolicited messages. In reality, though, spam is already a major problem with the service, due to users that create temporary accounts used only to shout at your username and present a spam link. Because of this, it's unlikely that enabling the ability to receive unsolicited messages will increase in spam, but the potential is definitely there.
It goes without saying that this new feature isn't going to side well with everyone. The good news is that once the ability hits your account, it'll be disabled by default - a very smart move by Twitter.
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