Update, Mar 24 (2:50 pm ET): Slack removed DM invite messages after feedback
What you need to know
- Slack Connect is introducing a new DM feature that lets users reach out to individual Slack members.
- The feature is meant to help foster working relationships between employees at different organizations.
- Unfortunately, the feature isn't being met with praise, with fears that it could lead to unwanted spam messages.
Slack is on the move again. As one of the best messaging apps for phones like the Samsung Galaxy S21, Slack is always looking for ways to improve its product. Slack Connect is part of the messaging platform's growing desire to upend email and become your all-encompassing work communication tool. Unfortunately, not everyone is happy about its latest feature.
Slack Connect launched last year, allowing businesses to create shared channels to help foster collaboration. Today, Slack is taking it a step further with a new feature that allows users from different organizations to send private DMs to anyone on Slack. By entering someone's email, you can invite them to into a conversation. The idea is to promote faster, more streamlined communication between partners or even friends within different organizations outside of the back-and-forth that comes with the more traditional email.
It sounds good in theory, but many Slack users are already expressing concern for the new feature. Many fear that it will lead to an influx of spam messages, which LinkedIn is often associated with. A line from Slack's blog post about the new feature even mentions how "a salesperson can form a direct line of contact to prospects." There's also a fear of harassment, something that many feel the app isn't equipped to handle, given its seeming lack of blocking and reporting features.
Slack Connect DMs are completely opt-in, although it's only at the organization level, which doesn't seem to address potential harassment that users could experience when a company enables them. Slack ensures that it's working on implementing policies at the admin-level to help moderate phishing and spam. However, many of these will not be available until summer and will still leave individual Slack members with little recourse to address the problems or opt-out of the service themselves.
At the moment, the new Slack Connect DM feature is available for paid members. However, it will eventually roll out to free users as well, a move that could further exacerbate any potential problems if not handled properly.
Update, Mar 24 (2:50 pm ET) ― Slack Connect's DM feature is already being scaled back
Slack has decided to pull back parts of the new DM feature after receiving backlash from users. Speaking to The Verge, Slack's vice president of communications and policy, Jonathan Prince, admitted that the feature made its users vulnerable to potential harassment.
After rolling out Slack Connect DMs this morning, we received valuable feedback from our users about how email invitations to use the feature could potentially be used to send abusive or harassing messages. We are taking immediate steps to prevent this kind of abuse, beginning today with the removal of the ability to customize a message when a user invites someone to Slack Connect DMs.
This means that Slack Connect DMs will no longer include a message when an invite is sent. While that addressed some problems brought up by Twitter users, it can still leave members vulnerable to whatever spam or harassment that could come if they happen to accept a seemingly harmless invite.
Clearly, Slack did not take the time to think this one through, despite having announced the feature back in October. Hopefully, the company can roll back the feature altogether and re-introduce it when stronger moderation policies are ready.