Gmail settings update sparks email privacy concern

Gmail users can now send emails to "Google+ connections" without knowledge of their email address. Credit: Google

A new Google feature which allows people to send emails without having the recipient's address has been met by an angry online response.

Google+ and Gmail users are concerned their private inboxes will now be inundated with unwelcome messages from strangers.

The new setting, which affects hundreds of millions of people with a Google account, effectively creates a direct and unsolicited message line between all Google+ users.

Google product manager David Nachum hailed the update as an "improvement" in a blog post entitled: "Reach the people you know more easily."

But the announcement received an immediate backlash from Google+ and Gmail users on Twitter, concerned about their privacy.

Mr Nachum introduced the Google feature in his blog post with the question:

He went on to explain that email addresses were still protected - they are only disclosed if the user replies to the unsolicited email - and users can opt out of the new setting if they wish.