Twitter is a fun place, isn't it? It's a friendly area of the internet where you can go to engage in meaningful, mutually respectful conversations. Oh wait, I meant the exact opposite. In any case, it's trying to improve and one of its latest methods is to filter out "lower quality" direct messages from your inbox. The social media giant announced its new feature this afternoon, to mixed response.
Many Twitter users in the announcement thread saw the feature — designed for those that leave their DMs open to anyone and frequently have to slog through spammy direct message requests — as a step that reduces abuse. A few were critical, one claiming the new feature was censorship. Most, as might be expected, used the opportunity to advocate for being allowed to edit Tweets after they're published.
Are your Direct Messages open, to chat privately with anyone? If so, you’ll see two sections: Inbox, with messages from people you follow; and Requests, for messages from people you don’t follow.
Requests are now filtered, so it's easier to see those useful messages. pic.twitter.com/qE76m1rhqg
— Twitter (@Twitter) August 22, 2018
In reality, it's a classic Twitter half-step. While being able to control what is filtered out of your DMs at a more granular level might be nice, Twitter's new feature is an on-or-off switch. Either let Twitter decide what's lower quality and filter it out, or leave it off and let the spam continue to pour in. As a journalist, the latter option is likely what I'll land on, since I'd rather not chance missing out on a lead. And even for those who don't chase leads, but are public personas, particularly those who receive hateful messages or threats — I'm fairly certain they'd rather Twitter take a definitive stance against abuse rather than sweeping it under the digital rug.
All that said, if you'd like to try it out and see how well the filter works before committing, you can keep it on for a bit then turn it back off, and you'll see all the previously filtered-out messages in your inbox — Twitter doesn't delete them. The company explains precisely how all this works in its Help Center:
...by default, we filter lower-quality requests from the Requests section of your inbox for the Twitter for iOS and Android app. When enabled, the quality filter for message requests hides conversation requests we think may be lower quality. Filtered requests will not be viewable in the Requests section of your inbox and you will not receive a notification about these requests. If you choose to disable the quality filter, older conversation requests which were previously hidden will be available in the Requests section in addition to new, incoming requests.
The change follows a July update that allowed users to mute notifications from accounts based on criteria such as brand new users, those who don't follow you, and those you don't follow.
To toggle on or off the quality filter, just open your DMs, then hit the settings gear in the top right corner to find the option.