Twitter has changed the way it delivers direct messages: anyone on the micro-blabbing site, even those you're not following, can now send you private tweets – if you so wish.
Normally, only the twits you've decided to follow can send you direct messages, so this feature, when enabled, throws inboxes open to the whole world.
The really good news is that this is an opt-in service: if you want to receive DMs from just those you're following, you don't have to do anything. Given that Facebook, Twitter and other social networks have a habit of introducing new features switched on by default – effectively forcing functionality on people – it's nice to see an opt-in update.
The feature is, we imagine, aimed at businesses, journos and the like who don't mind being contacted by the public.
"Previously, if you wanted to send a Direct Message to the ice cream shop down the street about how much you love their salted caramel flavor, you’d have to ask them to follow you first," writes Twitter software engineer Nhu Vuong in a blog post.
"With today’s changes, the ice cream shop can opt to receive Direct Messages from anyone; so you can privately send your appreciation for the salted caramel without any barriers."
To make sure your DM inbox is clear of spam, log into twitter.com, find your security settings page, scroll right down, and make sure the box labeled "Receive Direct Messages from anyone" is unticked. Of course, if you want to receive stuff from anyone, tick the box and click on "Save changes".
Clue: Untick this box
Also as part of the changes, if someone sends you a DM, you can reply regardless of whether or not that person follows you. A new button to send a DM will also appear on people's profile pages in Twitter's Android and iPhone apps.
The ability to receive DMs from anyone was developed and tested by select users back in 2013, but only now has this been rolled out to the masses. ®