Just weeks after rolling out a new feature allowing users to receive Direct Messages from anyone, Twitter has apparently had a change of heart. Now, as before, Twitter users are only able to send direct, one-on-one messages to users who also follow them back.
This is the closest the site came to explaining the backtrack on the feature:
I asked Twitter why the "accept DMs from anyone" feature is gone, and all I got was a link to this post: https://t.co/HMfDnHiEn6— Mathew Ingram (@mathewi) November 18, 2013
That blog post is a general explanation of the site's continued philosophy of experimentation. "We’re constantly working to make it even easier to follow what you care about, connect with people and discover something new on Twitter. To that end, we are constantly evolving the product." Mashable notes that the option wasn't even available to everyone in its weeks-long lifespan. They'd been testing tweaks to the DM limitations since 2011, indicating that the feature could pop up once again at some point in the future.
Even though Twitter basically lives and breathes public conversations, the increased DM reach had many speculating that the company was looking to expand its offerings. The rumors, which incidentally hit the Internet just before the company's early November IPO, outlined a possible plan to roll out a stand-alone DM application. AllThingsD explains that the rumored expansion would take its cues from (and likely compete with) mobile messaging services like Snapchat. Now those ideas are mothballed, at least for the foreseeable future.