Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) has removed a feature form its social network that allowed complete strangers to send direct messages to those who opted in. The company added the feature to its social network just over a month ago and removed it from its web service today with little explanation. The Next Webreported the change earlier today.
The feature allowed users to opt in to receiving direct messages from anyone that wanted to send them. If a user decided to check the box anybody with or without a previous Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) relationship with the user would be able to get messages into their inbox. It’s exactly how text messaging works. At the time of release there was speculation that Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) was preparing to invade the world of the SMS.
Twitter refuses explanation
Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) is a young company in a young industry, and it is very difficult to tell where it’s going. This is a problem for investors, and it is not made easier by the company’s refusal to explain decisions like the removal of the direct messaging feature. In response to questions about its removal of the feature the company directed questioners to a blog post about experimentation on the network.
Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) is still trying to figure out what services really work on its platform and which of those it can use to return money to investors. The company tried out a more liberal approach to direct messaging. Now it has taken the feature away. Shareholders would probably like to see an elucidation of the strategy but it is unlikely that Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) will offer them one.
The invitation to allow strangers to direct message a user seems almost seedy in a social media world dominated by privacy concerns and hand-wringing. This is how text messaging works, however. Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWRT) did not stumble onto the technology by accident.
Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) managed to collect a nice paycheck at IPO. The company is going to try to spend that money somewhere, and it is likely to try developing new products. The company has had mixed success with development in the past. Vine has been very popular, while #Music will not be remembered.
2013 saw the messaging app become one of the most important ways that people interact with their smartphone. Twitter has always operated like a messaging app, but it has always been a little less functional than the like of Viber or Snapchat because it has to be a social network at the same time.
When Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) first began to offer direct messaging to strangers it seemed that the company was going to break in on the turf of those messaging apps with its own offering. That appears less likely now, though the company may not have abandoned hope. There is a lot to come from Twitter in the next year. Its experiments may be the only opportunity there is to guess what they might be.