You can now DM *anybody you like on Twitter...

Update: *Hoping Emma Watson chooses the setting allowing DM*
Update: *Hoping Emma Watson chooses the setting allowing DM*

Twitter has opened up its Direct Messages feature so that they can now be passed between users even if they don't follow each other - providing they have approved the new feature.

The social media site was criticised when an earlier attempt to open up the Direct Messages feature - also known as DMs - had no approval process and led to an increase in spam messages being received by many.

This latest update, however, requires users to go to their Twitter settings and choose to be able to receive messages from any Twitter user.

In a blog post, Twitter's Nhu Vuong said: "Direct Messages are the best way to take your public Twitter conversations private. Today, we're changing how direct messaging works so that it's even easier for you to communicate one-to-one or with a chosen group of people, anywhere in the world.

"Previously, if you wanted to send a Direct Message to the ice cream shop down the street about how much you love their salted caramel flavour, you'd have to ask them to follow you first.

"With today's changes, the ice cream shop can opt to receive Direct Messages from anyone; so you can privately send your appreciation for the salted caramel without any barriers."

The new feature is optional, and users can choose to enable it by going through the settings of their Twitter app. Once this is enabled, Twitter says it will also introduce a new Direct Message button on user profile pages on Android and iPhone.

"We hope these changes help you connect more easily - and directly - on Twitter with the people, causes and businesses you care about most," Mr Vuong added.

The move to boost messaging comes as Twitter continues to battle the likes of Facebook and WhatsApp Messenger in the instant messaging space. Twitter currently has around 288 million users, with Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp reporting 500 million and 700 million active users respectively.