Twitter to limit your direct messages unless you pay up

Unverified accounts will see limits on the number of DMs they can send each day.
Written by Lance Whitney, Contributor
Twitter is aiming to limit DMs for unverified users
screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Twitter is aiming to impose yet another restriction that seems designed to force people to pay money for a Twitter Blue subscription. On Friday, a tweet from Twitter support announced that unverified users will have daily limits on the number of direct messages they can send. Though it didn't reveal how many DMs you'd be able to send, the tweet urged people to subscribe to be able to send more messages.

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To justify this latest constraint, Twitter said the goal was to reduce spam in direct messages. Twitter users who tweak their settings to receive DMs can be subjected to junk messages from spammers.

To deal with the spam problem, the company recently implemented a couple of new options. Instead of choosing to receive DMs from everyone, you can allow messages only from people you follow or only from verified users. Additionally, you're able to filter low-quality messages, which means that DMs identified as spam are forwarded to a separate inbox.

In another Friday tweet, Twitter Support said that the new options have resulted in a 70% reduction in Direct Message spam compared to the previous week. So if the new options are helping to combat spam, why limit the number of DMs that unverified users can send?

Twitter sees the fight against DM spam as on ongoing effort that may require several solutions. But many Twitter users see this latest restriction as just an effort to encourage more Twitter Blue signups. Some point out that spammers can easily pay for a Blue subscription, which costs $8 a month or $84 a year for individuals. The limits on daily DMs would also eat into legitimate discussions and conversations among unverified users.

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"Implementing some changes to reduce spam in DM but yet Verified accounts can still spam? Why not make it general if the goal is actually to reduce direct messages," tweeted one user. "If this is really about spam, let us whitelist people to message us without compromising their daily limit," said another. "In our opinion, this is a sales funnel to get more users verified and into Blue, not to combat spam," tweeted a third person.

In recent months, Twitter has kicked off other changes ostensibly aimed at combatting certain abuses of the platform. But many users see these as efforts to gin up more subscriptions. Early in July, owner Elon Musk unveiled rate limits that would restrict the number of tweets you could read each day. However, the limits are much stricter for unverified users than for Blue subscribers.

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I sent an email to Twitter's press contact address asking when the new limits would take effect and how many daily DMs unverified users could send. Instead of the usual automated reply with nothing but a poop emoji, the company responded: "We'll get back to you soon." If so, we'll update the story with any further details.

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