I saw a post about this on Mashable today, but there seemed to be confusion as to what exactly this change was, so I thought I would check it out for myself and post an update here.
In the past, Twitter users could only send a Direct Message (DM) to people who followed them back. Obviously, for brands utilizing Twitter for customer service purposes, this wasn’t an ideal situation– if a customer wanted to privately send some information, the brand would have to first follow that user, or else the exchange could not happen. Vice-versa applies, of course.
Since late 2011, it appears that some verified users had already been granted this feature. The Mashable article heretofore mentioned does indicate that not everyone will see this opt-in available; but, I’d imagine it will gradually roll-out to everyone in the near future.
To opt-in, simply go into the Settings menu on Twitter.com. Under Account, and just below the “Tweet Media” section, there you will find the option. The screengrab at the top of this post is from my own personal Twitter account.
Initial reaction has some worried that this ability will lead to an increase in DM spam (which, is basically the only type of DMs I seem to receive); and, it definitely has that potential. However, if you’re really worried about possibly incurring a rash of spam notifications, the solution is obvious: don’t opt-in in the first place. Problem, avoided.
Less than one month following Twitter DMs opening up to everyone, Twitter removed this option from the general public’s profile. So, no more worrying about that. Not sure if they also removed this for verified users (as I am not one).