Slack Connect launch marred by invite message abuse

Slack launched its much anticipated Connect feature that allows users from different workspaces to DM each other. The debut hit a snag when users started reporting abusive messages from DM invitations.

Slack Connect

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. 

Kickoff message for your new Slack Connect channel:

Welcome to our channel with [NAMES OF COMPANIES IN CHANNEL, e.g., Acme and Beta]. We’ll use this channel for all communication between our teams moving forward. 🎉

💡 A few best practices to keep in mind while working together in Slack Connect:

  • 🔴 Response times are unchanged and will follow our service level agreements, where we typically respond within 24 hours on weekdays. We request you @mention us to push a notification to us.
  • 👀 Emoji will be put on your message to indicate that we saw your request and are working on a response. ✅ emojis will indicate that it has been addressed.
  • ⚙️ We will use message threads for follow-up conversations to keep the conversations together and organized.
  • 📋 Try to put all relevant messages, files and context into the channel (vs. sending via email or individually messaging someone in Slack). This helps everyone working together to have all the same context, plus it keeps all of the relevant information in one place for easy reference.

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 DM invite with message
Original form used to send a DM invitation included the ability to include a message

Slack responded by turning off the ability to send custom messages with invites.

Slack DM invite without message
Slack removed the ability to include a message to thwart abuse

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:

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Tamara Scott is a writer and content strategist based in Nashville. With a background in English education, she plans and writes clear, instructive content for marketers and technology users of all skill levels. Follow @t_scottie