Twitter has changed the way it notifies users via email about the new Direct Message (DM) user has received. The subject of the email now reads “@User wants to chat with you on Twitter” instead of the usual “User (@user) has sent you a direct message on Twitter!”. I think it’s pretty obvious that Twitter is trying to project DMs as chat messages. [Update: Some users are reporting that they're still getting the old style email notification]
Previously, they used to include the DM in plain text while notifying the users via email. Now, that has been replaced by a simple “check it out” button. Back in November 2013, there were some talks about Twitter mulling to encrypt DMs and implement other security measures, but yesterday, it was reported that Twitter is giving up on encrypted messages. Though we don’t know the exact reason for abandoning the project, it’s interesting that they have stopped including the DM in plain text for email notifications.
So, is this just about semantics and wordplay? Or do we have something more to expect out of the changes. Yes, the use of word Chat is very interesting, but what’s more interesting is the fact that Twitter has ditched Direct Message completely from the email notifications.
Does this hint about an impending launch of a Twitter Messenger app? It’s not outlandish to think about it. Back in October 2013, much before Facebook acquired Whatsapp, AllThingsD spoke about Twitter’s plans to revamp DM service, and come out with a Whatsapp like messenger service. This allows users to send and receive direct messages from others without needing to mutually follow one another. Twitter has reportedly been internally testing this service for weeks, so the latest change to email notification might actually point us towards a standalone Messenger app. Messenger applications are hot properties in 2014, with Whatsapp being acquired by Facebook for a whopping $19Bn, Viber being sold to Japan’s Rakuten for $900Mn, and earlier today, Tango raising $280Mn from Alibaba. Twitter can’t afford to fall back in the race, can it?