By Larry Magid

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Twitter is making a change to its site that will let users receive direct messages from people who aren’t following them back.

The first question that comes to mind: will this open the door to more spam? I think it could be something that they’re doing in preparation for when their stock goes public, to figure out how to make more money and to make their advertisers happy.

This could work a couple of ways. They could send marketing messages to people, but also it could change how companies deal with customer support.

It could also save some companies the embarrassment of having customers complain in a public forum. I once had a problem with an airline and I complained in public and got a very quick reaction because I think they knew I have a lot of followers and that a lot of people would see it.

The function would be optional and there’s a way to turn it on, since having it turned off will be the default setting. You can find the link the Twitter settings page in a post on my blog.

I just don’t see why many individuals would turn this on though. I could see some companies doing it to get messages from customers who they don’t follow. If anything, it could open the door for spam and that would be my main reason for not doing it.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this is happening around the same time Twitter is about to go public. A lot of people are concerned on whether or not the company will ever be highly profitable. They have to figure out ways to make money any way they can, but in a way that doesn’t jeopardize users’ privacy.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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