Strava Adds DMs: Will It Be A Force for Good in the Long Run?

Strava this month has added a long requested feature to the app. It now has direct messaging and group messaging between users. Ostensibly an app to record your exercise habits, the platform has morphed into a social network platform in many ways over the years. Users can share posts about their runs, or bike rides, etc etc and comment on them. However now, users will also be able to send other users private direct messages. The reaction so far has been mixed.

Direct messaging at its best on the app will be something that helps facilitate more community spirit and friendships on the app. Zipporah Allen, Strava’s Chief Business officer, told Tech Crunch:

“Our community will now be able to coordinate adventures, connect for inspiration and tips and share their journey — all on one platform.” 

The new feature is free to all users, premium or not, and will help the app move into the world of social discovery a bit more. From seeing others posts, it will be possible to make connections with others who perhaps do similar exercise to you at similar times, and organise potential joint workouts. Allen recognise themselves however that the safety of this feature needs to be paramount:

“We wanted to be really careful with making sure we preserved what makes Strava such a safe place of belonging.” 

The backlash so far against the announcement of DMs is that Strava will now become another online space where women in particular could receive harassment and unwanted advancements. Some will feel it’s an app they use fundamentally for exercise and fitness, and they do not want it to become another online space where they have to deal with unsolicited messages. 

Key then to Strava’s implementation is the simple option that you can restrict who can and can’t message you on the app. You can limit it to followers, mutuals or no-one. On the ‘no-one’ setting, you technically can still use direct messaging, but you have to be the one to initiate the conversation. 

Exercise and fitness has huge potential to be an avenue for finding new friends, forging connections and joining communities – so when used right – direct messaging on Starva could transform it into a powerful platform. Thankfully the implementation is coming with the option that will hopefully prevent it becoming something untoward.

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