Workplace messaging app Slack Technologies said it was working to fix an error in the direct-messaging feature it introduced earlier on Wednesday, which could have led to relentless online abuse and harassment.
The feature enabled users to send direct messages to anyone inside or outside their company through Slack Connect. Users could send an invite to any partner and start messaging as soon as it is accepted, the company said in a blog post.
After rolling out the feature, Slack received feedback from users about how email invitations to use the feature could potentially be used to send abusive or harassing messages, Jonathan Prince, vice president of communications and policy at Slack, said in a statement.
“We made a mistake in this initial roll-out,” Prince added.
The overall concern, first raised by Twitter employee Menotti Minutillo, was that the feature did not have robust opt-out protections for individual users and no way to easily prevent people from spamming you with email invites.
That seems benign on the surface; if someone wants to harass you and they have your email address, surely they can just send you a harassing email. But Slack Connect bypasses any filters or inbox protections you may use by sending you an email from its firstname.lastname@example.org address with the DM invite, with the email containing whatever message the sender decided to attach.
The company, which is being acquired by Salesforce, said it would be removing the ability to customize a message when a user invites someone to Slack Connect direct messages to address the issue.
As companies around the world shift to working from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic, demand for services provided by Slack and Microsoft’s Teams have gained traction as offices conduct meetings remotely.
Slack said on Wednesday it planned to soon expand the direct message invitations feature to all teams, including those on free subscriptions.