Everybody knows you can’t pack a lot of information into 140-character messages, and while social messaging service Twitter rolled out location-aware services earlier this year that lets users tap into Geolocation services to specify a location, sometimes a street address just isn’t very useful. Would you rather people saw your tweet was from “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” or “The White House?”
To that end, Twitter has just rolled out Twitter Places, a new feature that enables users to tag their tweets with the location of specific places by name, instead of by address. Twitter has set up databases of known places in 65 countries (thanks data partnerships with TomTom and Localeze) that people can use by name to show the location of their tweets…and users can add additional locations. The service is available on the twitter.com site as well as mobile.twitter.com.
Twitter has partnered with Foursquare and Gowalla to poll location information from users’ check-ins with those services. Clicking on a Twitter Place will show both tweets associated with that named location, but also check-ins from Gowalla and FourSquare. Twitter is also publishing the API functionality so Twitter client developers can bring Twitter Places right into their dedicated client apps (expect Twitter to do the same for its own iPhone and BlackBerry apps). Twitter has also added location support for more desktop Web browsers.
As always, users of location-based services should be aware of privacy implications and the potential for mis-use of the data. A tweet that says you’re out of the country on a vacation may tell the wrong person your house is unoccupied and ripe for the picking; similarly, a tweet from a local sports event during work hours might make an employer a little unhappy.
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