Twitter Unveils Option to Receive Direct Messages From Anyone

Users must opt into the program, rather than opt out of it.

Oct. 15, 2013— -- Twitter is now giving users the option to receive direct messages (DMs) from any other Twitter user, according to a tweet today from marketing blogger Jim Connolly.

That means, for example, that you now have a direct path for your digital fanmail to your favorite celebrity if they have the new feature enabled.

Connolly's tweet today included a small screen capture of how it appears in his options.

Normally, DMs on Twitter are restrictive. They are kind of like vampires, and just as Dracula can't come into your house without an explicit invitation first, people sending DMs require that you follow them in order for the message to be sent. However, the new option, which appears in a user's Twitter account settings, lifts this requirement.

Connolly sees the option as benefitting brands and businesses rather than individual users. "People complain all the time about bad customer service experiences over Twitter," he told ABC News. "Now, those grievances can be dealt with privately from the business end."

Though there are some cases when individuals may find it useful, such as members of Congress learning the concerns of its citizens, Connolly sees the option as tailored specifically to businesses. "Pretty much every sizeable brand has a social media team," he said. "They now have a tool that they couldn't have dreamed of before to help them."

Recent policy changes concerning privacy and identity at Google and Facebook have stirred up some ill will among users. Unlike those companies, however, Twitter has made it so users need to opt in to the feature to receive DMs rather than toggling it off after receiving a flood of DMs from people they don't know. "If it had been an opt out option, it would have been mayhem," said Connolly.

Twitter did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment. However, some have claimed that the DM announcement is actually old news, citing an article from The Next Web.

Connolly himself has turned the option on and was surprised at how well it's been working. "I've had about 150 DMs since I wrote a post about it this morning," he said. "One hundred percent of them have been legitimate. No spam. No weird people. Just people who know who I am."