Today in “Twitter giving its users things they probably didn’t want” news, the company announced that direct messages now come with built-in read receipts, in the form of a blue check mark and a time stamp marking when your message has been seen. Which means that guy or gal you’ve been ignoring since they slid into your DMs with a proposition, career question, dick pic, or some combination of the three, is going to know when or if you’ve seen what they sent. (Fortunately, you can turn this update off in your settings.)
Twitter also announced a new typing indicator, so people will know when you’re composing and deleting a message to them. (Think iMessage.) And Twitter DMs will now expand preview links so you can see more of the content users are sending you. (Rich links like this are also an iMessage feature that will be available to all users when iOS 10 is officially rolled out this fall.)
The indicator feature and the read receipts (which I will promptly be turning off), take Twitter DMs one step closer to feeling like a standalone chat app. But building these features and actually getting users to commit to using direct messages in the same way they use apps like Facebook Messenger or iMessage are two markedly different things. Namely because Twitter DMs serve a markedly different purpose from their competition. I chat with my parents via iMessage because it’s already built into our phones. Facebook Messenger is an easy enough way to communicate with my international friends. (Plus there’s that whole “Facebook made me download the standalone Messenger app” thing.) But Twitter DMs, at least how I use them, are limited to the occasional journalist and tracking down the teenager behind the viral tweet du jour. Many of the people I know aren’t even on Twitter. There’s no void in my life that leaves me thinking: Hey! I could really use another messaging app! Twitter DMs seem like a good choice!
For now, these changes feel like several other additions Twitter has made in recent months; they’ll exist on the platform, but I probably won’t use them. (Looking at you here, Twitter Stickers.)