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Photo: Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Slack rolled out its private-message-anyone feature Wednesday and immediately faced backlash.

The big picture: The company now says it's removing the ability to include a message with a request to connect to prevent harassment and abuse.

Background: "Slack Connect" allows you to request to send direct messages to anyone using the platform — even if you don't work at the same company (though you do need their email address for the request).

  • The initial rollout left many users wondering what guardrails were in place to protect them from unwanted messages and abuse, with some quickly finding ways to send unpleasant communications with the feature.

What they're saying: “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," Jonathan Prince, Slack's vice president of communications and policy, said in a statement.

  • "We are taking immediate steps to prevent this kind of abuse, beginning today with the removal of the ability to customize a message when a user invites someone to Slack Connect DMs."

Go deeper

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Extremely high wind gusts over 60 miles per hour were recorded in parts of the East cost Monday morning, and more than 129,200 customers from New York to Georgia were still without power, according to estimates from PowerOutage.us.

Colleyville Rabbi credits survival to active-shooter training

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, one of the people taken hostage in a synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, said in an interview with CBS Monday that he initially took in the man because he thought he needed shelter.

The big picture: Cytron-Walker said he spoke to the hostage taker, identified by the FBI as 44-year-old British national Malik Faisal Akram, for several minutes and made him tea before Akram took the rabbi and three other people hostage during Shabbat services for around 11 hours in Colleyville, Texas.

Book bans are back in style

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

School districts from Pennsylvania to Wyoming are bowing to pressure from some conservative groups to review — then purge from public school libraries — books about LGBTQ issues and people of color.

Why it matters: A pivotal midterm election year, COVID frustrations and a backlash against efforts to call out systemic racism — driven disproportionately by white, suburban and rural parents — have made public schools ground zero in the culture wars.