Twitter has finally rolled out Group DM, its promised feature that allows you to direct message more than one person. The company says it will complement the public aspects of the platform, giving users “more options for how and with whom you communicate on Twitter.”
But do people really want this new option? How are people going to use group chats? Is it going to be all about spam and trolling?
You can start a Group DM session on Twitter at any time by heading to your “Messages” tab. Click the “New Message” icon toward the top of your screen on web, or the speech bubble icon on mobile, and search for the names of people you’d like to add.
If you’re starting a Group DM to share and discuss a tweet, you can start chatting directly from your timeline on the web. Click the icon with three dots at the bottom of any tweet and select “Share via Direct Message.”
With Group DMs, you can share text, photos, links, emoji and tweets. Anyone in the group can add more people (even if everyone in the chat isn’t following that new person) by clicking on the three dots at the top of the chat screen.
You can even give your Group DM session a name by clicking the pencil icon at the top of the chat screen.
The most obvious use we’ve found for Twitter Group DMs is sharing Twitter content with others, and being able to discuss it separately from the public timeline.
Small groups with an interest in specific topic areas can use the new feature in a similar way — as a method for collecting and sharing information quickly and easily.
With the ability to add people to a Group DM that others in the chat don’t follow, Twitter has given people a way to make confidential introductions, away from prying eyes. This offers possibilities for recruitment, business-related intros or even matchmaking — but there is also potential for abuse.
For example, PR people often pitch journalists on Twitter, including via DM. But now that it’s possible to add others, people could take advantage, and your message box could soon overflow with spam.
We’re not sure this new functionality is going to be popular with celebrities on Twitter. Word on the street is that fangirls and fanboys who are lucky enough to be followed by their objects of affection are starting Group DMs and adding other friends (that the celebs don’t follow) in the hopes of a cozy group chat.
One Direction’s Liam Payne — who follows more than 17,000 fans — penned a recent tweet describing the situation as “crazy.” He later added: “I do wish I could answer everyone but that’s an impossible task.”
Meanwhile, BuzzFeed trolled Obama, Mike Tyson, Jane Fonda and Justin Bieber by adding them all to a Group DM session. What could have been the world’s most random group chat didn’t get a single response from the celebs involved.
Twitter says there is currently no special protection for celebrities as far as Group DMs go — but we expect it won’t be long before the platform needs to introduce such an option.