Send twitter DM to non-followers 73

A lot of times I have seen twitter users wondering how to send DM’s (direct messages) to ppl who are not following them. Since I have had the pleasure of explaining it so many times on twitter, I thought I would just write it once and for all and share the link from now on. So here goes.

To send a DM to anyone who’s not following you, just “derive” their URL to create a DM message.
The URL would be<username> where you need to replace the <username> with the twitter id. for eg. to send a DM to me, you would use the following link

Hope this makes your twitter communication quick and easy!


Since twitter has updated its interfaceย since last night, this hack now shows an error message. However it STILL works. Please ignore the error message.


Following this post, has suddenly realised some sort of a “loophole”, treated this thing as a “bug” and fixed it as well. Now this hack would not work in any circumstances. You simply can not DM anyone who’s not following you. As a policy or design decision I dont quite agree with it. People can send orkut messages, facebook messages, flickr messages to anyone at all. Why can twitter messages not be enabled? It’s very much required as a feature going by the number of hits this post received in the short time that this hack was working.

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73 thoughts on “Send twitter DM to non-followers

  • AmitLq

    Hi,Twilight-thanks for that bit of info..I did join Twitter 2 weeks back, having heard so much about it,but,at present,I’m a bit do you use it for more communication??Some more tips,pls??

  • UpsideUp

    I was so excited about this bc I’ve been desperate to contact someone on Twitter who isn’t following me. Sadly, though, it didn’t work for me. I got a message that said “You cannot send messages to users who are not following you.”

    Thanks for trying, though. You gave me hope for a few minutes there! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Twilight Fairy Post author

    Hey UpsideUp – unfortunately a few days after I published this post, apparently “fixed” this hack. So now one cant use it! ๐Ÿ™ .. but earlier it has served me quite well for a long time.

    BTW u can always write to that person by starting a tweet with a @username and if that person checks @replies, then he/she would be able to see your message

  • UpsideUp

    Hey Twilight Fairy – I totally tried that. Many many times. But this person seems to have set up a Twitterfeed site and left it all to its lonesome. I thought hopefully they have DMs coming to their email or phone. Sigh.

    Any other suggestions for getting someone’s attention?


  • Twilight Fairy Post author

    Upside up – rather unfortunate. Let’s lobby to Ev and biz to enable this as a feature in twitter!

    Mayank – right after I published this post, they have now fixed this treating it as a “bug”!! Well privacy issues can be handled in a better way anyway.

  • Laura "Pistachio" Fitton

    I’m glad they got rid of it. Do you really want the coming mass of spam Twitterers to be able to DM you even though you were smart enough not to follow them back?

    “People can send orkut messages, facebook messages, flickr messages to anyone at all.”

    But Twitter already HAS an open messaging method that levels the playing field. Everyone can send an @reply to everyone else. When someone elects to do a lot of pitching with @replies, their behavior is transparent.

    If someone pitches via DM, they’re limited to those who have given them permission to do so by following them back.

    But if you combine “message everyone” with “message everyone privately” DMs from anyone in the system would very quickly become exploited and seriously pollute the environment there. Ick.

    PS – as to the traffic this post generated, i came right here to read about the hack because my overwhelming thought was “oh my god, no. i hope not.”

  • Mayank Dhingra

    @Laura Exactly my point. For services where you can have tens of thousands of followers/subscribers etc even if you let them DM anyone things can be really painful.
    Ability for any user to message any other user will lead to spam riots.

    That makes me think that I don’t mind giving an option to kwippy users to choose if they want to get Direct/Private messages from any user ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks !!

  • Twilight Fairy Post author

    Laura – that open method of replies has a lot of bugs itself, not to mention that it’s “open”. One needs the privacy of an inbox at times. There’s no reason why one would be bombarded with just spam in case this feature is activated. The option of blocking is there, isnt it? Orkut, facebook and flickr – all have the scraps, wall and comment space for the same open interaction, however they ALSO have the mail feature. Anyone can mail anyone – you need not even be on their contact list or anything! Do you think the world has crashed for users of orkut, facebook or flickr?

    You say – “If someone pitches via DM, theyโ€™re limited to those who have given them permission to do so by following them back.” – and there *exactly* lies the problem :). Many users do not want to lose out on opportunities galore!

    Regarding the traffic generated, believe me, the people who are shocked is a very small minority compared to the people who actually *want* this as a feature. There will always be both. What I am saying is that the people who want it, is much much more. This post being replicated multifold, users commenting in all the places saying this is what they wanted since ages and users now mailing me to ask me other ways to do this, now that this has been stopped — is a testimony to what users really want. Twitter doesnt even allow one to reply via DM, in response to a DM sent by someone! Some weird “policy” this is. As I said earlier, there are ways to avoid spam. There are ways to allow customisation on per user basis.

    Mayank – why the concern on the number of followers? That’s not even a mentionable number. It should be open to everyone in the world! Like it is in other webapps, like orkut, flickr, facebook. Have any spam riots broken out there? No. If someone does spam you, one can always block them. Private messaging is allowed to EVERYONE irrespective of their contact status. As I wrote earlier, there are better ways to handle this and one of them is giving the choice to the user whether they want to be open to this option.

  • Mayank Dhingra

    Sites like Twitter are NOT social networking platforms hence its not fair to compare them.

    However I mentioned in my last comment giving user an option would be great but I doubt if any of the famous guys will ever use it.

    One reason that spam riots haven’t broken in their is because individuals their aren’t that famous(not that I know of).Can you think of a people on orkut, facebook etc who have tens of thousands of fans? Its also due to lesser discoverability.
    BTW there is a spamming problem there too, at least on orkut.

    Everyone will try to explore the opportunities and it won’t be surprising for people like Scoble to have hundreds of messages daily( no wonder he’s explicitly mentioned he doesn’t check/reply his DM’s). See the feature is lost for him already.

  • Twilight Fairy Post author

    Mayank – well I consider twitter one of the biggest social networking platforms! What do you think we do all day if not network socially ๐Ÿ™‚ . And yes, all these bigshots on twitter have presence in the other sites as well especially facebook. (Some are on flickr as well).

    Like I wrote in my first response to you above, there are better ways to handle privacy issues – the user should definitely have this choice of controlling what all they want, after all its their privacy which is being controlled. There are options of controlling those in flickr as well. Regarding bigshots – well once one is a bigshot, 4get DM, even email or basic communication gets difficult :). Most of them ignore @replies as well. At the end of the day – It’s all upto the individuals themselves.

    But I can at least conclude that this choice is best left to the user. At least nobodies like us can get around to using it well.

  • Pingback: A Twitter Hack - sending a DM to someone that doesn’t follow you « EverythingTwitter

  • Twilight Fairy Post author

    Thanks for informing me Andy – what exactly happens when one “nofollows” a link?

    I am aware that this post has been shamelessly copied at multiple sites, at times with no credit or linkback. But is there any stopping such people? I have fought against a publication using my image without my permission, but people who copy the text, modify a word or two and unethically pass it off as their own – cant do much about such jerks. ๐Ÿ˜ I wrote to some of them and they passed it off as ethical!

  • Andy Beard

    Google uses links to determine the original source of information, and Technorati use links to determine authority (not that that is worth much)

    If someone uses rel=”nofollow” on a link, it no longer passes on reputation to the original article.

    There are other ways to determine, such as date published and similarity, but many webmaster believe that “fair use” requires not only a link, but one that can be recognised by the search engines. This is why so many people were upset when Wikipedia introduced using nofollow, because Wikipedia doesn’t contain any original research, it is all “borrowed”

  • Twilight Fairy Post author

    William – please read the post fully. It has an update which mentions that this hack stopped working after this post got published.

    Also any particular reason why you want me to follow you on twitter? You can contact me from the contact form provided at this site.

  • Joe Murphy

    Seems like twitter closed a potential security problem — if you can DM anyone, then spammers could (theoretically) build bots that spam-DM everyone.

  • Twilight Fairy Post author

    Joe – the problem could have been tackled at root level. No bots attempted or auto registration made possible.
    Facebook allows everyone to send private messages, of course there’s no chance that a bot would be able to create an account and abuse this privilege.

  • krist0ph3r

    i haven’t had the chance to try it out, but can you tweet “d userid message” to dm message to userid? that’s the way i send DMs from the mobile web. never tried sending it to people i don’t follow though.

    btw i don’t agree that it’s an invasion of privacy or an invitation to abuse or anything of the sort. twitter could easily enforce a time limit between DMs sent to people who aren’t following you, or require atlaest a 3:1 reply ratio, or whatnot. they already do lot of automated checking for fake acounts, so this could just be one more check…and there’s always the report abuse button ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Kevin

    “Is a policy or design decision I don’t quite agree with it. People can send orkut messages, facebook messages, flickr messages to anyone at all. Why can twittesitesr messages not be enabled?” – I don’t know why people always comparing twitter with other social networking site as orkut, facebook… please make it clear that twitter is not another social networking site and don’t use twitter like that. If you are interested in social networking, then use orkut, myspace or facebook.

  • Twilight Fairy Post author

    Kevin – and who decides whether twitter is a social networking site or not? The users I suppose.
    As I wrote above in my comments, well I consider twitter one of the biggest social networking platforms! What do you think we do all day if not network socially?

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  • Twilight Fairy Post author

    Satya – thanks for liking the post. the hack doesnt work anymore.

    and no, I dont take it as spamming at all :). all the spamming can happen in @replies as well. You might have noticed that all social networking portals – orkut, facebook, flickr etc have the provision of sending private messages to others. this is the same thing.

  • proamarketer

    The hack is very much working. I have tested not one but sending two DM’s and they were delivered and i could see them in my Sent items as well. Thanks a lot for this small but helpful informative stuff.

  • proamarketer

    Please bring some more hacks of this kind. Was looking for this for quite some time now. Also am looking for is, if we can send replies to all our followers same time with out using a third party site or software..a small of this kind.

  • proamarketer

    Dude “Something is technically wrong.
    Thanks for noticingโ€”we’re going to fix it up and have things back to normal soon.” Hmmmm they have found it as i was using more than once. Please come up with another hack dude ๐Ÿ™‚