Twitter’s direct message (DM) system is, quite frankly, rubbish. An inbuilt messenger is a handy and convenient feature on any social network, but what we have on Twitter is so basic and limiting to be almost useless. Here are six ways in which it could easily be improved.
1. Direct Messages MUST Be Two-Way
As it stands, the direct message system on Twitter isn’t really fair – if I follow somebody this affords them the right to send me a direct message, which many do, certainly if they want to keep something private. However, unless they follow me back, I do not have the same luxury. I cannot reply to their DM. This is ridiculous for two reasons: one, it gives them an immediate advantage, and two, the only way for me to respond to their ‘private’ message is to make it public with an @reply.
I say: you should only be able to send a direct message to another user if you’re both following each other. Otherwise, you have to send a reply. This would encourage mutual following and cut down on unnecessary and one-way direct messaging. No mutual follow, no direct message. You’ll have to send me a reply instead.
2. Mass Marking/Deletion Of Direct Messages
Twitter needs to add a series of checkboxes next to each delete message so that you can quickly mark and delete any you want to remove and/or move somewhere else en masse (see ‘Folders’, below). There also needs to be a one-click ‘select/unselect all’ – as it is, I can remove all my direct messages using a service like DM Whacker, but that should be a basic feature on Twitter, surely?
If you’re on Twitter long enough, pretty soon you’ll build up a lot of direct messages. Some of these will contain useful links and information – I stress the word some, as relatively it’s going to be very few. Right now, the only way to find that data is to scroll back through page after page of direct message, and hoping that CTRL+F and the right keyword will find what you want. A search feature built in to the DM system would make this a very simple process.