If your workplace uses Slack, you’ve likely developed a Pavlovian reaction to hearing the notification ping, reminding you that you can’t escape work even when you’re on your lunch break. Well, here’s some bad news: Slack is about to become even worse. Slack announced back in October that a new direct messages feature was coming, where workers can communicate across organizations. That’s not bad, right? But on Wednesday, Slack announced that you can now DM anyone who pays for a Slack subscription. The company also notes that, eventually, they will “expand Slack Connect DM invitations to all teams, including those on free subscriptions.” All you have to do is send an invite to the person you want to contact, and if they accept, you get to message them.
In case you’re wondering what’s so bad about that, allow us to explain. Slack is a safe, work-focused space. If you invite randos in, they can harass workers. And while the request aspect allows people to select who can actually contact them, just like we’ve seen on Zoom, anyone can create a fake name and email to make an account, pretending to be someone else. The barrier between workspace and public forum where anyone can contact you is gone. This is very alarming for vulnerable groups, opening the possibilities for racist, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic attacks. It is the absolute worst time for this and Slack should know better. But alas, welcome to our impending nightmare.
UPDATE, 1:44PM CST: In a statement to Mashable, Slack’s vice president of communications and policy, Jonathan Prince, said the company is looking into preventing the feature from being used to harass others. “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,” Prince explained in an email to Mashable. “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.”