Twitter announced Monday that its users will be able to change a setting on their accounts to allow anyone to send them a private message. In addition, if a person follows a big account — for example, from a company like United Airlines — the Twitter user can respond to messages sent by that account even if the account, United in this case, does not follow that individual.
According to early reports, the option is off by default and can be managed from a user's Settings on the Twitter website. On the Twitter blog, the company explains how businesses and other profiles could benefit from the new setting:
Communicating with people you may or may not know in real life just got easier. 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. 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.
The Twitter apps for iPhone (iPad not mentioned) and Android will get a new icon to indicate whether a user can receive direct messages from anyone or not. This new DM feature is not exactly new as, like many other options, the company first rolled it out for a limited amount of time in late 2013.