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Twitter Rumored To Be Planning Stand-Alone Messaging App

on Thursday, Oct. 17th

Once upon a time Twitter thought about doing away with Direct Messages. The whole point of Twitter, the reasoning went, was that it is a public platform for mass communication.

Given that Twitter started out as a way to overcome the private limitations of SMS messaging, it makes sense that the company wasn't enamored with the idea of direct messages. Even the famed 140 character limit is a direct legacy of Twitter's origins in SMS.

But a year of Snapchat, What's App and… you name it… the leaders of Twitter have changed their thinking. As all things D's Mike Isaac puts it Twitter has a whole new plan when it comes to DMs. The company is considering releasing a stand-alone messaging app, and the groundwork may have already been laid:

Part of the new reemphasis on direct messaging is already here. For weeks, Twitter has been internally testing a setting that allows users to send and receive direct messages from others without needing to mutually follow one another. And, earlier this week, the company began to roll it out to the public in a limited capacity.

But Twitter's new vision for direct messages will go further. It has kicked around the idea of launching a standalone direct-messaging application separate from the Twitter app, according to three people familiar with the matter. It is unclear, however, what form the final revamp of direct messages will take.

There is a lot of competition in the private messaging field right now. What looks on the surface to be a problem is actually a grand opportunity. Users have so many options for cross-platform messaging, it's hard to know on which platforms your friends are already on. Worse still: we all have a few on each of them.

A one-stop shop solution that would let you do everything you can do on Snapchat, What's App, Kakao Talk, Voxer–oh God make the listing stop– and that was tied to a very public address. Say your Twitter account? Why that's almost like having an Internet White Pages.

I know you youngsters may not know what the White Pages are, but it's how people used to find each other's phone numbers when they wanted to be listed publicly. It was one of those useful things that we relied on the back of the pre-Internet era. 

Twitter could position the Twitter handle as a kind of universal address for short form communication. The social media era equivalent of the land-line phone number. The one place you can guaranteed to be reachable, if you want to be reached, that is.

So it seems to be true that there is nothing new under the sun. Nothing new, but maybe something newly useful.

Follow Noah Nelson on Twitter (@noahjnelson)

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