Last weekend, I discovered that Twitter’s new live-video app, Periscope, had a rather scary privacy flaw: If a broadcaster did not turn off location sharing, a zoomable map accompanying the video stream pinpointed his or her location down to the intersection. Because many people use the app at home, this meant that Periscope was potentially revealing the home addresses of thousands of users. In an article published on Monday, I suggested that Periscope’s developers remedy the problem by limiting the map’s zoom function, so that only a user’s city could be seen, and not their pinpointed location. Today, with the release of its first app update, Periscope has done exactly that, disabling zoom on the map. That means people can now more securely stream videos of their pets and refrigerators.
The week-old live-streaming app allows people to broadcast live video and audio from their smartphones to the Internet. When you open the app, you see a list of live feeds, both from people you follow and from strangers. As I wrote earlier this week, Periscope is a surprisingly intimate and addictive medium for connecting with strangers around the world. One of the most pleasing features of the app is how it treats “likes.” Unlike other social networks, Periscope lets you “like” as many times as you want by tapping your smartphone screen as you watch a stream, and the broadcaster will see your feedback appear as a flow of colorful hearts.
Besides the fix to disable zoom on the map, the app update also includes improvements to streaming speed and to the way videos appear on Periscope’s home screen. Now streams from people you follow will appear first, followed by streams from strangers. The app badly needs a search function, but unfortunately no discovery features were included in this release. I have reached out to Twitter for comment and will update this article if I hear back.