Twitter Rolling Out Geolocation API

Twitter late Thursday afternoon confirmed a TechCrunch report that the microblogging service had switched on its new Geolocation API, which will enable developers to build apps able to pinpoint the location from where people are tweeting.

Writing in Twitter’s API Announcement Google Group, platform team member Raffi Krikorian says:

“as some of you may have already noticed, we’ve started going through the first steps to get the geolocation API out our door. there are a few more steps in the process that i want to share with all of you.”

Then he gets all geeky, talking about “empty ‘geo’ tags” and such. The bottom line is we’ll soon see location features built into Twitter applications, which not only will make life easier for users but should provide an interesting new way to cut Twitter data.

If you’re worried about privacy issues, here’s what Twitter’s Biz Stone wrote about the Geolocation API back in August:

Folks will need to activate this new feature by choice because it will be off by default and the exact location data won’t be stored for an extended period of time. However, if people do opt-in to sharing location on a tweet-by-tweet basis, compelling context will be added to each burst of information.

For example, with accurate, tweet-level location data you could switch from reading the tweets of accounts you follow to reading tweets from anyone in your neighborhood or city—whether you follow them or not. It’s easy to imagine how this might be interesting at an event like a concert or even something more dramatic like an earthquake. There will likely be many use cases we haven’t even thought of yet which is part of what makes this so exciting.