Twitter has changed how it shows direct messages you receive from someone you don’t know. Users who have enabled the option to receive direct messages from people they don’t follow will now see them marked as “requests” on the “Messages” tab.

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Twitter lets users review direct messages

The change moves messages sent by people you don’t know into a separate inbox so that they aren’t mixed in with those sent by people you do know. It also mirrors what Facebook does by separating messages that were sent by friends from those that were sent by people you haven’t friended yet.

Twitter explains how the new direct messages function on its support pages. Users will find the new “Requests” inbox on the “Messages” tab. It will include not only messages from people you don’t follow but also new group conversations you were added to by people you don’t follow. Upon entering the conversation, you can choose to delete or accept the message. If you choose to accept the message, you will then be able to engage with the other user, and it will move the direct message to your main inbox.

Twitter clarified that the sender won’t know that you have seen the message until you have accepted their request, so if you delete it without reading it, the sender will never know. Media also remains hidden until you accept the message, although you can also click “View media” to look at it. Deleting a direct message removes it from the inbox, but it doesn’t keep the sender from sending additional messages. The only way to do that is to block the account entirely.

Twitter battles online abuse

Placing the direct messages into a separate inbox enables Twitter users to make a judgment call about an unknown sender before reading their message. It seems like a logical step to take as the social network goes about battling trolls and online abuse, which have plagued its efforts to grow for quite some time. However, Twitter didn’t actually say why it made the change to the direct messages feature.

It could be an attempt to get more users to keep their accounts set to receive messages from everyone because it’s easy to filter out the spam and avoid potential abuse. Twitter has been rolling out the change gradually to iOS, Android and Web users.