Direct Messages

Direct messages are available on many websites. Using it is similar to email, but with some differences. Learn all about them here.


Screenshot of TwitterSending a direct message with Twitter

Many websites allow you to send direct messages: private messages sent from one person to another. In many ways, direct messaging is very similar to email, but with a few important distinctions:

When are direct messages used?

Direct messages are often used when email is not an option. For example, eBay sellers may keep their email address private, but you can always contact them through eBay's direct message feature. Direct messages allow both parties to communicate without sharing their email addresses. For convenience, you can usually have direct messages forwarded to your email address.

There are two main types of websites where you might use direct messages:

screenshot of ebaySending a direct message in an online store

Pros and cons of direct messaging

Will direct messages work for your needs? Review some of the pros and cons to help decide:


  • Your contact info stays private. Neither person has to reveal an email address.
  • You can send private messages that are visible only to the recipient.
  • It gives you an alternate way to contact friends if you lose their email addresses.
  • It's included with sites you may already use, such as eBay, Facebook, and Twitter.


  • Like email, it may take a long time for the other person to see your message.
  • It can't really be used as a replacement for email, and its usage is more limited.

Where to find direct messaging

There are many websites that offer direct messaging features, including:

If you are interested learning more about using direct messages, we have tutorials on the following: