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.