10 reasons why Twitter Direct Messages suck (and so do Facebook’s)

OK, over on Twitter they have this feature. It’s called “Direct Messages.” It means you can send me a Tweet that no one else can see. A LOT of people try to use this feature with me and I really, really, hate it. How many people? I have 4,388 direct messages.

Twitter isn’t the only one that sucks, either. Facebook has a Messaging feature too. 1,249 messages are waiting for me there.

I do NOT answer in either place most of the time. Why? Here’s 10 reasons why they suck and why I’d much rather you email me at scobleizer@gmail.com or, simply, just ask me a question in public!

1. I can’t delete them all. So I ignore them all.
2. I can’t put them into folders. So, no way to prioritize them. Or, if you are a Gmail addict, no way to tag messages.
3. No way to resort them. No way to see old messages. Or messages from someone specific. Email has those features.
4. No way to forward messages. That means they are useless for business. If you ask me a business question I MUST forward the question and get approvals. No way to do that on Twitter.
5. No way to BCC messages. In email I can copy my boss blindly so you can’t see that I’m doing that. That’s a way that I can keep him involved in my life and up to date on all the wild promises I’m making to people. That’s why I don’t make promises on Twitter or Facebook.
6. You ask me a question that requires a 500 word response but you ask it in a place that limits me to 140 characters. Thanks for frustrating me.
7. I can’t respond to your own DM’s unless you follow me. Seriously. The design of Twitter’s DM’s +is+ that lame.
8. I can’t put an auto answer onto DM’s so that I can tell you to get a clue and to send me email instead.
9. I can’t CC, or copy other people, or send a message to a group. Things that email has been able to do for years.
10. I can’t move my DM’s out of Twitter and into other systems. That’s something that I’ve been able to do with email for years and it’s served me well. Even Hotmail lets me forward emails to Gmail.
11. UPDATE, this just came in via Twitter from @TraciKnoppe: “@Scobleizer Use your great influence for good & get Twitter to chng the DM req. & API limits. Make it so number one. :P”

Anyway, I hate DMs. Don’t you? @ev can we get these things fixed? Yes, that’s my form of direct messaging @ev because this feature has caused me so much hell over the years.

217 thoughts on “10 reasons why Twitter Direct Messages suck (and so do Facebook’s)

  1. I agree with a lot of the comments above that different technologies should be used for different things – email, facebook and twitter.

    But also that the use or misuse of DM is annoying for people with a lot of followers. As such can appreciate some of your points and reason for request for email or open tweets. Perhaps also request a polite ‘No DMs’ in your bio so that new followers get the message or get reminded of this post and don’t DM?

    So… the No Direct Mail notices make their way from the letterbox to social media channels. DM really has had a bad rap over the years!

  2. I have been using peekamo.com. Its mobile based but find that its much easier to use than DM and have been in conversation with the guys there and they tell me all the features you are talking about will be implement there within the next few weeks.

    If anyone is interested checked it out. It’s http://peekamo.com, and they always appreciate feedback and actually listen.

  3. I have been using peekamo.com. Its mobile based but find that its much easier to use than DM and have been in conversation with the guys there and they tell me all the features you are talking about will be implement there within the next few weeks.

    If anyone is interested checked it out. It’s http://peekamo.com, and they always appreciate feedback and actually listen.

  4. Not only that I don’t like Twitter’s DM’s and Facebook mssgs for the all technical annoyances mentioned above, but the major factor I found here /chez moi/ is non-technical.
    I find very rude and indecent (call it netiquette) if someone on Facebook sends me a message (and I have lot of them unread) and on my web site on several places there is ‘contact’ page with email. Academic people usually send email directly, the others send messages – I wonder if people read ‘contact’, or notifications for sending email, or they are just idle and it’s easier to spam you on FB?

  5. Not only that I don’t like Twitter’s DM’s and Facebook mssgs for the all technical annoyances mentioned above, but the major factor I found here /chez moi/ is non-technical.
    I find very rude and indecent (call it netiquette) if someone on Facebook sends me a message (and I have lot of them unread) and on my web site on several places there is ‘contact’ page with email. Academic people usually send email directly, the others send messages – I wonder if people read ‘contact’, or notifications for sending email, or they are just idle and it’s easier to spam you on FB?

  6. We have so many avenues of communication it is hard to know which to use when. For example if I see an event advertised on Twitter by someone whom I follow, then I am likely to DM him/her for details. Why? It’s rude to @respond because no one else is interested, I don’t have another way of contacting you, the context is reasonable, so it is another string to my communication bow.

    DMs as replacement for IM are certainly messed up. We tend to be more selective about our IM buddies, so would expect to have richer conversations on IM. So no substitute there.

    DMs as replacement for email – well sometimes the context is in the DM thread so the communication should be there.

    But in general DM (and the whole of Twitter) is a very weak 2-way medium. It is actually a pretty weak one-way medium since the communication space is flat. It depends on the level of intimacy one has with the tweeter (twitterer). It’s like getting the Christmas letter that goes to everyone. I don’t care about Uncle Albert’s gout, but someone on the recipient list probably does…..

  7. We have so many avenues of communication it is hard to know which to use when. For example if I see an event advertised on Twitter by someone whom I follow, then I am likely to DM him/her for details. Why? It’s rude to @respond because no one else is interested, I don’t have another way of contacting you, the context is reasonable, so it is another string to my communication bow.

    DMs as replacement for IM are certainly messed up. We tend to be more selective about our IM buddies, so would expect to have richer conversations on IM. So no substitute there.

    DMs as replacement for email – well sometimes the context is in the DM thread so the communication should be there.

    But in general DM (and the whole of Twitter) is a very weak 2-way medium. It is actually a pretty weak one-way medium since the communication space is flat. It depends on the level of intimacy one has with the tweeter (twitterer). It’s like getting the Christmas letter that goes to everyone. I don’t care about Uncle Albert’s gout, but someone on the recipient list probably does…..

  8. The only good reason for DM in Twitter and Facebook is to protect you from showing your e-mail address — or, as I have discovered, as a means to draw you into Twitter to get an account for the sole purpose of reaching out to someone who will only allow you to contact them via Twitter. So, the Twitter folk or the Twitter die-hards are using DM to perpetuate their social network, rather than to as a good design decision.

    The right way to build the feature is simply to offer an option: DM to Twitter account or use a Twitter form to send an e-mail (including actual reply address) directly to your Gmail (or other preferred location)

    Twitter is great for many things, but the benefits of short messages, follows and DMs run into a wall in many cases, like this. My twitter network is negligible and its already impossible to parse through the messages I get on my feed in any useful way.

  9. The only good reason for DM in Twitter and Facebook is to protect you from showing your e-mail address — or, as I have discovered, as a means to draw you into Twitter to get an account for the sole purpose of reaching out to someone who will only allow you to contact them via Twitter. So, the Twitter folk or the Twitter die-hards are using DM to perpetuate their social network, rather than to as a good design decision.

    The right way to build the feature is simply to offer an option: DM to Twitter account or use a Twitter form to send an e-mail (including actual reply address) directly to your Gmail (or other preferred location)

    Twitter is great for many things, but the benefits of short messages, follows and DMs run into a wall in many cases, like this. My twitter network is negligible and its already impossible to parse through the messages I get on my feed in any useful way.

  10. You hate DM because you chose to ignore Twitter’s spirit, which is simplicity and chronology, and want it to be more a kind of business email-like app full of features.

    What I would like you to consider before flaming against DM and Twitter.

    1. Why “having the ability to delete them all” has to do with read them or ignore them all? I really didn’t understand this argument.

    2. Folders is more for email. Twitter is not an Exchange plugin or a Blackberry feature. Plus: priority on Twitter is chronology, is WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW, so forget about twisting it or making another priority. The DM that just arrived is the priority.

    3. Just what I said: Twitter is not email. Stop trying to make them match in every feature.

    4. Again, you’re trying to make Twitter DM feature work for your business, but that’s not the main purpose of it. Twitter is not for business or conference calls or business meetings. It’s not a Project Manager software.

    5. Copy your boss? You’re joking, right?

    6. Asking a question that needs a 500c response it’s the questioner’s problem. And you can tell that in less 140c. You choose to become frustrated because you want it to be so. Besides, you want to make those 10 reasons, so you just invented this one. I want to tweet a 150c tweet, oh, I’m so frustrated.

    7. Actually I agree on this one.

    8. Do you know you can choose to be notified by email when you receive a DM, and the DM message will go in it?

    9. Again and again, Twitter is not email. Plus, group feature is missing on the whole Twitter and not only in DM feature. Twimc, particularly, I don’t want group messaging, it’s the kind of complexity that it would start killing what I think Twitter really is. Please, don’t be ICQ, Twitter. Don’t be Microsoft Project either.

    10. Seriously? Email, again?

  11. You hate DM because you chose to ignore Twitter’s spirit, which is simplicity and chronology, and want it to be more a kind of business email-like app full of features.

    What I would like you to consider before flaming against DM and Twitter.

    1. Why “having the ability to delete them all” has to do with read them or ignore them all? I really didn’t understand this argument.

    2. Folders is more for email. Twitter is not an Exchange plugin or a Blackberry feature. Plus: priority on Twitter is chronology, is WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW, so forget about twisting it or making another priority. The DM that just arrived is the priority.

    3. Just what I said: Twitter is not email. Stop trying to make them match in every feature.

    4. Again, you’re trying to make Twitter DM feature work for your business, but that’s not the main purpose of it. Twitter is not for business or conference calls or business meetings. It’s not a Project Manager software.

    5. Copy your boss? You’re joking, right?

    6. Asking a question that needs a 500c response it’s the questioner’s problem. And you can tell that in less 140c. You choose to become frustrated because you want it to be so. Besides, you want to make those 10 reasons, so you just invented this one. I want to tweet a 150c tweet, oh, I’m so frustrated.

    7. Actually I agree on this one.

    8. Do you know you can choose to be notified by email when you receive a DM, and the DM message will go in it?

    9. Again and again, Twitter is not email. Plus, group feature is missing on the whole Twitter and not only in DM feature. Twimc, particularly, I don’t want group messaging, it’s the kind of complexity that it would start killing what I think Twitter really is. Please, don’t be ICQ, Twitter. Don’t be Microsoft Project either.

    10. Seriously? Email, again?

  12. While I couldn’t get through all of your reasons, as I read the first couple I thought of an idea. Why don’t Twitter, Facebook or whomever has this similar feature offer an auto-forward function to send the DM to your email. Well wait, it sort of already does this. Include in reply-to the persons email address or a unique reply address that would transcribe your email reply back into the proprietary format of the social network. Eh?

  13. While I couldn’t get through all of your reasons, as I read the first couple I thought of an idea. Why don’t Twitter, Facebook or whomever has this similar feature offer an auto-forward function to send the DM to your email. Well wait, it sort of already does this. Include in reply-to the persons email address or a unique reply address that would transcribe your email reply back into the proprietary format of the social network. Eh?

  14. I like Twitter DM. I can always reply with an e-mail, I do not HAVE to reply with DM. But, I get less than 3 DM’s a day. Do you think getting over 4,000+ DM’s is a typical case, or an edge case?

    (Also, if I have a blog post that gets 3 replies that’s a lot, so maybe I am just boring.)

    My e-mail backs up way, WAY more that my Twitter DMs.

    I like Twitter DM because I am always able to receive them as I am always plugged into Twitter on multiple devices and I can choose to reply in real time or later.

    The people I get DM’s from are almost always friends.

    Steve Sloan

  15. I like Twitter DM. I can always reply with an e-mail, I do not HAVE to reply with DM. But, I get less than 3 DM’s a day. Do you think getting over 4,000+ DM’s is a typical case, or an edge case?

    (Also, if I have a blog post that gets 3 replies that’s a lot, so maybe I am just boring.)

    My e-mail backs up way, WAY more that my Twitter DMs.

    I like Twitter DM because I am always able to receive them as I am always plugged into Twitter on multiple devices and I can choose to reply in real time or later.

    The people I get DM’s from are almost always friends.

    Steve Sloan

  16. I guess that ancient non-hip-Web 2.0-thing called “email” still has it’s uses. But see, any tech fails at your noise volume level — IM, DM, Tweets, what have you. Nothing will work, no matter how many David Allens you worship.

    Just get the broadcasting tools (shaky cell phone cams, FriendFeed and etcc. spewers), all the essential evangelist tools needed to spread the messages, whilst never having to listen (or bother with) the actual flocks.

  17. I guess that ancient non-hip-Web 2.0-thing called “email” still has it’s uses. But see, any tech fails at your noise volume level — IM, DM, Tweets, what have you. Nothing will work, no matter how many David Allens you worship.

    Just get the broadcasting tools (shaky cell phone cams, FriendFeed and etcc. spewers), all the essential evangelist tools needed to spread the messages, whilst never having to listen (or bother with) the actual flocks.

  18. Twitter is a simple service. Direct messages are meant as a way to send SMS to someone without having to know their phone number. It’s not email. If you think someone asks you a question that requires an email, then ask for an email address.

    Twitter is not a GTD application, it’s not email, it’s not complex in any way shape or form. It’s a broadcast platform for 140 character text that has a point to point backchannel, however, it is a text broadcast platform first.

    Adding a layer of complexity means adding another reason that my mother won’t use it.

  19. Twitter is a simple service. Direct messages are meant as a way to send SMS to someone without having to know their phone number. It’s not email. If you think someone asks you a question that requires an email, then ask for an email address.

    Twitter is not a GTD application, it’s not email, it’s not complex in any way shape or form. It’s a broadcast platform for 140 character text that has a point to point backchannel, however, it is a text broadcast platform first.

    Adding a layer of complexity means adding another reason that my mother won’t use it.

  20. Wow. A completely free service that a ton of people seem to enjoy, use, and find value in; a free platform that has enabled scobleizer to interact, advertise, and extend its reach to consumers it might otherwise have no connection to. Blogging about this inferior service has given you prime real estate on the home page of techmeme (probably not for the first time), which I clicked to get here. The post has 77 comments so far, plus more have obviously viewed, yet somehow, twitter has made your life hell. Methinks if anything, twitter’s existence has increased your relevance ranking on the internets. Without them, your voice would be muted. Twitter provides both megaphone and hearing aid, and for one who’s business is pretty much talking, I see twitter as an awesome utility for aspiring scobles everywhere. Peace out!

  21. Wow. A completely free service that a ton of people seem to enjoy, use, and find value in; a free platform that has enabled scobleizer to interact, advertise, and extend its reach to consumers it might otherwise have no connection to. Blogging about this inferior service has given you prime real estate on the home page of techmeme (probably not for the first time), which I clicked to get here. The post has 77 comments so far, plus more have obviously viewed, yet somehow, twitter has made your life hell. Methinks if anything, twitter’s existence has increased your relevance ranking on the internets. Without them, your voice would be muted. Twitter provides both megaphone and hearing aid, and for one who’s business is pretty much talking, I see twitter as an awesome utility for aspiring scobles everywhere. Peace out!

  22. Completely agree about Twitter’s useless DM feature.

    But Facebook’s I actually use, generally for quick personal correspondence that I don’t care about archiving or finding later.

    I think Facebook’s works better for me for several reasons:
    1) I don’t approve any Facebook requests from people I don’t actually know, and I try to keep my Facebook circle of friends fairly small (I have “only” 306).

    2) Facebook messages come to my cell phone via SMS. Basically nothing else does except a direct SMS or tweets from a select few people I used to work with.

    3) There are lots of people for whom the only e-mail address I have is a work one, and I generally prefer to send them an FB message (that until recently at least would tend to show up in their personal e-mail) instead of an actual e-mail.

  23. Completely agree about Twitter’s useless DM feature.

    But Facebook’s I actually use, generally for quick personal correspondence that I don’t care about archiving or finding later.

    I think Facebook’s works better for me for several reasons:
    1) I don’t approve any Facebook requests from people I don’t actually know, and I try to keep my Facebook circle of friends fairly small (I have “only” 306).

    2) Facebook messages come to my cell phone via SMS. Basically nothing else does except a direct SMS or tweets from a select few people I used to work with.

    3) There are lots of people for whom the only e-mail address I have is a work one, and I generally prefer to send them an FB message (that until recently at least would tend to show up in their personal e-mail) instead of an actual e-mail.

  24. Robert as usual nice points that prove once again you are *the man* in social networking. The transparency of the social space is a large part of the appeal and there’s little need at Twitter for “privacy” – that is missing the point. Do we ever need privacy? Sure, but we have many private venues already – the important changes are in the social space.

  25. Robert as usual nice points that prove once again you are *the man* in social networking. The transparency of the social space is a large part of the appeal and there’s little need at Twitter for “privacy” – that is missing the point. Do we ever need privacy? Sure, but we have many private venues already – the important changes are in the social space.

  26. Personally I think you are looking at DMs all wrong. They are more like SMS than email. I have my DMs go straight to SMS. If it’s something I need to answer, I usually do so by email or phone or normal sms.

    Of course you are right in that people who use them for long drawn out back and forth conversation should be shot.

  27. Personally I think you are looking at DMs all wrong. They are more like SMS than email. I have my DMs go straight to SMS. If it’s something I need to answer, I usually do so by email or phone or normal sms.

    Of course you are right in that people who use them for long drawn out back and forth conversation should be shot.

  28. Great points indeed. I’m glad I’m not that popular, so my DM frustration has been minimal. If I complain it would go unheard perhaps, but you can help improve things…

  29. Great points indeed. I’m glad I’m not that popular, so my DM frustration has been minimal. If I complain it would go unheard perhaps, but you can help improve things…

  30. Oh yes talking abt mailing instead of DM, that is not practical in all cases. In your case your email id on your blog, it is convenient for anyone to mail you. But what about the rest? I don’t want many people to know my personal id, I am more comfortable if they would simply DM me or reply @chupchap.

  31. Oh yes talking abt mailing instead of DM, that is not practical in all cases. In your case your email id on your blog, it is convenient for anyone to mail you. But what about the rest? I don’t want many people to know my personal id, I am more comfortable if they would simply DM me or reply @chupchap.

  32. I have a solution for two of the problem you are facing. I wanted to say this yesterday itself. (before 70 odd people commented =D )
    The problems you face: No way to sort DM’s
    Not easy to search

    Well I don’t have many mails 25 odd may be. Mopst of them are not in my twitter profile as I deleted them. So where are these mails? IN my inbox of course. I get an alert everytime someone DMs me and the message is delivered to my inbox, where I tag it and archive it (gmail). When I have to search for info within those mails well gmail search’s ability to search within particular tags comes handy!

    Now the problem you face now is similar to the problem I have with an old email id of mine. I get only spam mails there now and they are so many in number that I get tired deleting them. What you can do ignore all the past DMs and start reading all new Dms now on. Cos I find DMs helpful. Certain things are better kept betw 2 individuals than blurted out to the whole world!

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