Slack Backtracks on New Way to Message Over Harassment Concern

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Slack Technologies Inc. launched a new push to expand the utility of its widely used collaboration app only to backtrack hours later amid concern it could inadvertently facilitate harassment.

Slack on Wednesday morning introduced a new feature that lets users invite to a conversation anyone else running the app. The company billed the feature as a way to make Slack even more of a replacement for email by making it easier to engage with people across its app.

Slack use traditionally has been limited to chat within an organization. More recently, through a feature called Slack Connect, the company has tried to broaden the appeal of its software by allowing intercompany messages between customers that sign on to the feature. The direct messaging function launched Wednesday further expanded the group of people a user could contact.

Slack quickly backtracked on the expanded function after growing criticism on social media about how the feature could facilitate abusive messaging.

“We made a mistake in this initial rollout,” said Jonathan Prince, Slack’s vice president of communications and policy. He said the outside feedback the company received was valuable and helped alert it to the potential for misuse.

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