Twitter Will Know Where You Are... Soon

Yesterday I wrote about how Twitter and other social networking tools could really change the world. One tool that should help spur that along is geotagged Tweets that place people's comments in geographic context. Now more details on geoTweeting has emerged.


Geolocation could really be Twitter's killer feature...and it was supposed to launch yesterday at the Twitter conference currently underway in L.A. It didn't surface, due to finalization of a few details, but over at Smarterwear Gina Trapani's gathered lots of data on the tech that was revealed by Twitter's platform lead Ryan Sarver.

It's a precise latitude and longitude system only—so if you choose to geotag your Tweets you'll not be able to say you're "somewhere" in New York. Twitter may chose to display the location as something like district/city rather than precise "corner of 4th and so-and-so" but your exact geolocation is behind this, and will be stored at Twitter.

The big take-away is that Twitter's really really concerned with user privacy. Though it will store your location data, it's an opt-in service via Twitter's homepage account settings screen only. And your geoTweets will only be stored for 14 days—after that time they are physically deleted from Twitter's servers. This is both to protect your security (we're thinking for situations like cyber-stalking), and to prevent Twitter from being the target of subpoenas for user data. Eventually it will keep the information permanently, since it'll certainly represent a valuable data pool for market research (and, indeed, academic research). But for the same privacy reasons it'll be made fuzzy in some way—perhaps by being anonymized, or degrading the exactitude of coordinates.

[via Smarterware]

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  • Kit Eaton

    @Arun---mentioned trendsmap yesterday :) Doesn't it only use your single-location home base as included on your Twitter home page?
    @Aly-Khan. I think that's why Twitter's being super-careful with the data. And remember--it's opt-in only: You have to choose to geographically locate your Tweets. And you can do so on a tweet-by-tweet basis too.
    @Erik. Sounds like the same kind of questions "and people want to read my 140-character thoughts on blah why?" or "I want to e-befriend my old school mates and play virtual scrabble with them why?" that faced Facebook and Twitter in their entirety. Geotagged Tweets will definitely become important--and most likely for emerging trends that we can't quite imagine yet.

  • Aly-Khan Satchu

    I did try to respond to your piece from yesterday but I got Twistaged. I think your Article was spot on about the revolutionairy nature of both Twitter and other Uber Platforms. They are very recent Phenomena and very disjunctive. In particular, they are dynamically re calibrating the relationship between those who exercise Power and those on whose behalf they exercise it. Gullivers Travels is for me the best example. The Citizen was like the Lilliputians, single fragmented Voices and powerless in the face of the State that was Gulliver. These Platforms have allowed lone Voices to conjoin and in many ways Roar. The Platforms have yet to fully flex their muscles.

    Your Piece today is entirely interesting but surely the risk is that A government that is not friendly to some of its Citizens will be easily able to track down those it does not care for. I think in that regard, Twitter need to be very careful because anything damaging on that side will impair the Franchise.

    Aly-Khan Satchu
    Twitter alykhansatchu