1-1 messaging isn't a feature settable via permissions, unfortunately. By default all regular (i.e. non-guest) users are able to send private messages to all other regular users.
Guest access users are only able to message in the room that they have access to (they cannot send 1-1 messages to other users).
...from the beginning. We have built up a lot of content in HipChat, with it being a core tool in our distributed company model. While it is true that we didn’t need to move to Slack immediately, we felt it...
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