Twitter boss hints at ‘whisper mode’ to enhance DM feature

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Twitter boss Dick Costolo said this week the company is looking at rolling out a number of new features for the microblogging service, one of which he described as a “whisper mode” allowing users to “move fluidly between that public conversation and the private conversation.”

It’s not known how far down the road the site’s designers are with the development of the feature, or even if it’ll ever see the light of day, but Costolo’s words, which came in an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday, demonstrate his team’s interest in broadening the app’s capabilities and introducing more functionality similar to what you find with instant messaging apps.

Twitter already allows for users to discuss topics privately through its Direct Message feature, but it doesn’t allow for group messaging and apparently lacks the fluidity Costolo has in mind with his suggested whisper mode.

For many, Twitter has been slow to develop its DM feature. In December, it started allowing users to include images in DMs and redesigned the tab bar to make it easier to access the feature, but a change introduced in October allowing anyone to DM anyone was pulled a month later, meaning once again you can only contact a user directly if they’re following you.

While it’s pretty clear Twitter is exploring a number of ways to enhance its private messaging features, the service has always been, and will always be, primarily a public communication platform. However, if it can enhance its DM feature with additional functionality that appeals to users, it should help to hold them within the app for longer thereby keeping them from jumping over to one of the many successful messaging apps constantly fighting for their attention.

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