Slack Connect was first announced in October 2020. Connect lets organizations invite Slack users from other organizations to communicate directly within the tool via direct message (DM) or in a shared channel. Today Slack made the feature available to all paid accounts.
Slack Connect’s invite-only system promises to reduce unnecessary noise from email and keep all business- or project-related conversations in a single, searchable thread. The tools should also improve security for sensitive projects by keeping them within the app instead of sending files and messages over email.
How Connect Works
Within your Slack workspace, choose Slack Connect from the left-hand menu. From there, you can choose to connect to a single outside contributor via DM or build a channel where contributors from up to 20 organizations can communicate. Enter the email addresses of the people you’d like to connect with, and they will receive an email invitation to join your Slack DM or channel.
Depending on your organization’s settings, an admin may need to approve the connection prior to sending your invitation.
Slack provided significant documentation on how to use the features. They’ve also provided best practices guidelines that include a sample email for setting expectations about the channel up-front.
What Slack missed
This rollout was not without its flaws, unfortunately. Almost immediately users exposed the ability to use the Connect invite email to bully or harass people via email.
Slack responded by turning off the ability to send custom messages with invites.
Jonathan Prince, VP of Communications and Policy at Slack, issued an apology from the company. Slack also promised to provide greater controls for these features in coming versions.
After rolling out Slack Connect DMs this morning, we received valuable feedback from our users about how email invitations to use the feature could potentially be used to send abusive or harassing messages. We are taking immediate steps to prevent this kind of abuse, beginning with the removal today of the ability to customize a message when a user invites someone to Slack Connect DMs. Slack Connect’s security features and robust administrative controls are a core part of its value both for individual users and their organizations. We made a mistake in this initial roll-out that is inconsistent with our goals for the product and the typical experience of Slack Connect usage. As always, we are grateful to everyone who spoke up, and we are committed to fixing this issue.Slack apology from Jonathan Prince, VP of Communications and Policy via David Pierce
What’s next for Slack Connect?
Slack has several features lined up to increase the security and usability of Connect:
- Anti-phishing and scam alert tools coming in Spring 2021
- More granular administrative controls coming in Summer 2021
- Administrative controls via API available Summer 2021
- Private business networks with cross-organization communication and channel discovery available in Winter 2021