3 reasons I won't use Twitter's geolocation feature

Twitter's upcoming geolocation feature is a nifty idea -- but mainly in theory. A quick look at the applications of Twitter geolocation could give those close to you, and not only those people, some ideas of taking advantage of the service to your detriment.

Twitter's upcoming geolocation feature is a nifty idea -- but mainly in theory. A quick look at the applications of Twitter geolocation could give those close to you, and not only those people, some ideas of taking advantage of the service to your detriment.

Soon arriving at a Twitter client near you (and online), Twitter geolocation can attach information about your current location to each tweet you send to the world. Whether you are out and about or just at home, the whole Twitter community can see your approximate position.

Twitter geolocation, though, is not the first service of its kind. Google's Latitude works in a similar way as well. However, when Twitter geolocation is launched, the feature will be disabled by default. So here are three reasons why I won't press the "enable" button.

I Get Enough Advertisements Already

. . . on the street, on TV, radio, online, and soon on Twitter? Advertisers could see great potential in Twitter's geolocation feature. Say I'm in town and I decide to go shopping around. I send out a tweet about my decision and my location is shared with it.

Based on that information, shops around me could scan automatically for certain keywords from users in the area and deliver me targeted tweets with their latest offers. Besides the fact that I wouldn't want shops to know where I am, the possibility of getting dozens of advertisement replies from stores near me while in town is plain creepy.

Criminals are Tweeting Too

We all like to send the occasional tweet while on vacation or otherwise out of town. It's enough already that burglars could read your tweets while you are traveling, but they could also identify when you're not at home, even if you didn't mention it at all. So next time you come back home, your beloved plasma TV and all your precious gadgets might not be there anymore.

And let's not forget about those tweeting celebrities, who love Twitter so much. Geolocation could first make their home location available to a plethora of (obsessive) fans, and then get those Hollywood stars invaded by paparazzi when having their fancy meals; and that's not counting stalkers for you and me.

It's All or Nothing

You won't be able to control who sees your location with Twitter geolocation. Unlike Google Latitude, Twitter's feature won't allow you to chose exactly which of your followers could see your location. I might allow my close friends to track my location, but the lack of any such filtering reinforces my first two objections; and that could lead to all sorts of unpleasantries.

A whole Big Brother-style range of tracking network could emerge as well, as ingenious third-party developers could build such applications. Oh, and just in the odd case there's another Twitter worm or attack, affected users could have their location feature enabled without their knowledge, becoming a mass of walking zombies. No thanks.

P.S.: Yes, I'm on Twitter. Follow me @danielionescu

Tags twittersocial networkinggeolocation

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Daniel Ionescu

PC World (US online)

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