The first step on the path to freeDM

In a recent blog post called “Mission: Permission” twitter beefed up its security levels for third-party apps and increased the amount of control users have on what areas of the account these apps can manage on your behalf. The changes were cheered in the tech press and have many day-to-day users climbing back into the third-party-app pool.

One of the areas twitter didn’t address completely (and that many hoped they would) was the dreaded “Auto-DM” message. For those of you fortunate enough not to know about this annoyance, the Auto-DM is a feature twitter users can set up that delivers private messages to other users when they beginning following them. Usually they start “hey, thanks for the follow” and then proceed to vomit out a list of keywords specific to their business interest. Sometimes they even end with a link somewhere (just in case you want to read more spammy, non-personal content in your spare time).

In a nutshell, the Auto-DM is the dreaded “spam” of the twitterverse. It is vile, not only because of its interruption to your twitter timeline, but also because most users have their accounts set to get their twitter DMs by email or text.  (Ugh)

So why do so many people use auto-DM?

The first reason is because it works. We all read our DMs, we all love our DMs. They are our “sacred space” on twitter where the messages we know we want to stop and read live. So marketers know they can make an impression by blowing the Auto-DM at us when we least expect. In some cases (perhaps before your second or third one arrives) auto-DMs may actually motivate some users to act.

The second reason auto-DMs still exist is because too many marketers still think that social media is about broadcasting, not communicating. They believe that by “jamming” one more impersonal message at a user that they will have accomplished something; will have created one more data point on their traditional marketing deliverables matrix. To sum it up, they just don’t get social media.

Hopefully twitter will see the light in their next security upgrade and will work harder to eliminate the Auto-DM. In the meantime, let me do my part for society and ask the world to just stop.  Pretty please.

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