Excluding Periscope, much of Twitter's focus as of late has been on improving and tweaking existing services and features. Earlier this month, the microblogging platform addressed its flawed quote tweet function and now, Twitter has overhauled another pain point: its hamstrung direct message (DM) service.

Up to this point, two Twitter accounts interested in exchanging DMs had to be following each other. This made some scenarios, like companies trying to provide tech support to end-users, a bit of a hassle. The update essentially eliminates that hurdle.

The changes, which are rolling out now worldwide, allow users to receive DMs from anyone, regardless of following status. Additionally, Twitter has updated its messaging rules so that users can reply to anyone that sends them a DM - again, regardless of whether or not that person follows them.

What's more, mobile Twitter users on Android and iOS will see a new Direct Message button on profile pages belonging to people / companies that have enabled the new features.

The changes are bound to annoy and frustrate some that value privacy and could potentially open the flood gates to spam and additional bullying. The good news, however, is that this is a completely opt-in offering. If you don't want to be bothered by other people you don't know, then simply don't enable it.

These recent changes and others that could happen over the course of 2015 and beyond are no doubt in response to the overwhelming success of apps like WhatsApp who last week revealed it now has 800 million active users (in comparison, Twitter had roughly 288 million active users as of the fourth quarter.

Lead image via Huffington Post