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Twitter could soon open the direct-message floodgates

The microblogging service is apparently testing a feature that would let anyone and everyone following you send you a direct message -- even if you don't follow them.

Twitter direct messages
This setting has started to appear for some Twitter users. It will allow you to receive direct messages from anyone following you, not just those whom you follow.
Screenshot by CNET

It might soon be easier for Twitter users to send direct messages.

Marketing professional Jim Connolly on Tuesday showed off an image of what he says is a new Twitter feature that will allow people to send direct messages to anyone they follow. The feature does not appear to be widely available and its default setting is off, but it could mark a dramatic shift in communication on the social network.

Twitter's Direct Messages feature is locked down quite heavily. In order to send someone a direct message, the recipient must be following the sender. If the feature Connolly discovered is adopted, the would-be recipient can determine whether he or she would want to allow followers to send direct messages. If the feature is toggled on, the recipient wouldn't need to be following the sender to receive direct messages.

Twitter's current implementation was designed to reduce spam and help users receive only messages from people they want to hear from on a given topic. The new feature would make the service more open for communication, but whether it could become a nuisance is something users would need to keep an eye on.

CNET has contacted Twitter for comment on Connolly's find. We will update this story when we have more information.

Update 11:36 a.m. PT: A smattering of other Twitter users -- including one CNET staffer -- have now also come across the new setting option, which shows up on the Account tab.

(Via Pocket-lint)