Before TikTok updated its settings, users were only able to DM people identified as friends or recommended friends.
According to The Information, TikTok has been sending emails to select users, letting them know about these new options, which were originally added to the platform in November.
Selecting the “Everyone” option sets up an experience similar to Instagram, where messages from mutual friends and people one follows appears in their inbox, while messages from users one doesn't follow appear in Message requests.
Selecting the “Suggested Friends” option allows synced Facebook friends and phone contacts to send a user DMs, while selecting the “Mutual Friends” option means that anyone a user follows who also follows them back can send a direct message.
The “No one” option is self-explainable, making it unable for a user to receive DMs from anyone. However, users who select this option will still be able to access their message history.
Boosting its private messaging features may be a strategic move for TikTok, as it attempts to fill the gap between a pure entertainment platform, like competitor YouTube, and more socially focused apps more dependent on DMs such as Instagram and Snapchat.