Slack pledges update to “Connect DM” after realizing harassment exists

Shadowy Slack usage.

Enlarge / Shadowy Slack usage. (credit: Pavlo Gonchar | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images)

Ubiquitous work-chat platform Slack this morning rolled out a new feature, Connect DM, that allows users to send direct messages to people they don’t work with. Hours later, the company is already saying “our bad” and promising an update after users demonstrated almost immediately how easy it is to use Connect DM to abuse or harass others.

Slack first rolled out Slack Connect last year, which allowed for companies to create channels shared between multiple Slack servers to facilitate business operations. Basically, if you work for Widget Film Production Inc. and you are collaborating on a project with Venue Studio Corp., Widget employees and Venue employees can both join a shared Slack channel to discuss location scouting for their upcoming project.

Today, however, Slack added a feature that allows anyone in the world with a paid account to send a direct message request to any other Slack user in the world (even if they do not have a paid account). Ilan Frank, Slack’s VP of product, told tech news site Protocol that Slack is deliberately positioning itself to become the chat platform of choice for the business world. “When someone opens up their phone, if they’re connecting with their friends, they click on Facebook or WhatsApp,” Frank said. “If they’re connecting with someone they work with, regardless of where that person works, they should be clicking on Slack.”

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