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Twitter's new location features work well, but at what cost?

March 11, 2010 |  2:05 pm

Twitter's highly anticipated location features have been rolled out to its users. Twitter location

When Twitter users log into their profiles, they will now see a "Tweet with your location" option displayed. If they opt to allow Twitter to show their location to others, each tweet will include that information going forward.

If a user clicks on location information in a tweet, a small Google map will be displayed showing where the tweet originated.

I first started using Twitter's new location features this morning. Overall, they work well.

Upon clicking the "Turn location on" option, I was asked to confirm that I wanted to share that information. Once I confirmed my choice, the service displayed a list of towns of where I might be in a drop-down list. I chose the correct town and from there, it was appended to all my tweets. It was a quick and easy process.

Twitter's Google Maps integration is interesting, but I'm not sure how useful it is. The feature displays the location of where tweets are originating. It's nice for those who want to meet up with friends, but finding people who are nearby requires users to sift through tweets to view location information.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to find all followers within a specific distance around a user's current point.

Location information is becoming quite popular on the Web. An increasing number of sites are adding location options to their services and several location-based tools, like Foursquare, are enjoying strong growth. Twitter map

But like those services, Twitter's integration of location information raises several privacy concerns. Do users really want their followers to know where they are? And do they really want Twitter to offer those followers a map to help them out?

Luckily, Twitter's location tool is opt-in, so those who don't want to share their information aren't required to do so.

I turned location-monitoring off. I can see why some folks would like to use it, but enjoying some privacy is more important to me. I'm just not comfortable sharing my location with anyone who happens to stumble across my Twitter account.

--Don Reisinger

twitter.com/donreisinger

Image 1: Twitter dialog box alerting users to the new feature. Credit: Screenshot of Twitter by Don Reisinger

Image 2: A view of Google Maps running in Twitter. Credit: Screenshot of Twitter by Don Reisinger

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