Twitter Takes Geo-Location Feature Live

Now you can let the twitterverse know where you're tweeting from. But why?

Say this about Twitter, the company and its army of outside developers keep finding ways to maximize the content you can pack into the 140-character limit assigned to every tweet. For example, hash tags (#) make your tweets more easily found by Twitter search engines, while URL link shorteners, like Bit.ly, TinyURL and a host of others, let you include otherwise long Web links in the messages.

Now Twitter has added geo-location.

"A recent burst of interest in location-sharing applications, games, and services has many Twitter users excited about appending geographic data to some of their tweets," Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said in a blog post announcing the new feature.

Addressing the privacy concerns that typically accompany geo-aware services, Twitter said the feature is turned off by default and must be activated by the user. When users do opt-in, a map of their location can be seen next to their tweets, though users can control what's shown and turn the "Tweet With Your Location" feature off at anytime. By default, a general neighborhood location is shown, but users can also choose to show their exact street location. Users can also clear their location before they tweet and delete past location data with single click.

Twitter has actually been talking publicly about geo-location tagging features since November, and had something of a soft launch back then when it made the feature available to developers. Fourquare and Seesmic are among the developers to have already integrated Twitter's geo-location features.

"People who choose to add this additional layer of context help make Twitter a richer information network for all of us -- location data can make tweets more useful," Stone said. The location data could be useful to alert others to a local, unexpected event like a water main bursting or a fire in the neighborhood, for instance.

The location feature is currently only available in the U.S., though Twitter said it plans to add other countries "as fast as we can." A company called Maponics partnered with Twitter to provide neighborhood information.

In a post last year about the Tweet With Your Location Twitter feature, the company suggested users be very careful about what information they choose to share.

"It's already a good idea to be cautious and careful about the amount of information you share online," the company said. "There may be some updates where you want to share your location ('The parade is starting now.' or 'A truck just spilled delicious candy all over the roadway!'), and some updates where you want to keep your location private. Just like you might not want to tweet your home address, please be cautious in tweeting coordinates you don't want others to see."

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.




Tags: Twitter, Social Networking Tools, social media, Geo-location, Geo-tagging


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