The dangers of tweeting your location

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Twitter has a new feature that allows users to add location information to their tweets. Of course the feature is turned off by default, so Twitter won’t reveal private information about your whereabouts unless you want it to do so.

Those who would like to opt-in will be able to add their location information to individual tweets through Twitter and using other applications or mobile devices that support this feature. The location information that is shared publicly can be either your exact location (coordinates) or your place (such as a city or a neighbourhood). You can opt-in by accessing your Twitter settings and ticking this box:

Twitter settings to opt-in to the location feature

The new status updates will look similar to this (if you’re using Firefox 3.5+ or Google Chrome or you have Google Gears installed on an other/older browser:

Tweet with added location information

Twitter claims that “tweeting with your place or coordinates can add context to your updates and help you join the local conversation, wherever you are”. Now that might be true, but they forgot to properly warn their users about the possible risks of using this feature.

A website called PleaseRobMe used to provide the best example of how dangerous sharing your location over the web can be.

A BBC article explains┬áthe issue and tells that the PleaseRobMe site used to scrutinise players of the online game Foursquare, which is based on a person’s location in the real world. PleaseRobMe used to extract information from players who have chosen to post their whereabouts automatically onto Twitter.

“People were checking in at their house, or their girlfriend’s or friend’s house, and sharing the address – I don’t think they were aware of how much they were sharing.”

This video goes even further when its author traces someone’s empty house:

Charity Crimestoppers advises people to think carefully about the information they choose to share on the internet.

“We urge users of Twitter, Facebook or other social networks to stop and think before posting personal details online that could leave them vulnerable to crimes including burglary and identity theft,” said a spokesperson.

“Details posted online are available for the world to see; you wouldn’t hang a sign on your door saying you’re out, so why would you post it online?”

Yeah, why would you??

Update: According to Twitter “at this time Tweet With Your Location is only available in the United States.” They’re working on rolling it out to other countries as fast as they can.

The dangers of tweeting your location, 4.2 out of 5 based on 6 ratings

4 responses:

  1. Nick Edwards

    I agree, I would never use that feature…but I can see why Twitter have decided to add it to the site.

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  3. attila

    do elaborate!

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  5. Nick Edwards

    Well, there are certain times when people post and have to follow it up with a “oh, I’m at XXX by the way”. I noticed it a lot during SXSW.

    Plus, 140 characters isn’t a lot and using a bunch of them up just saying where you are is annoying sometimes.

    Oh, and it’s a pretty good feature for those who don’t tweet publicly (i.e. have their tweets set to private so only accepted followers can view them).

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  7. attila

    i like what your saying.

    one thing tho. maybe accepted followers aka friends know the best where you live. and you wouldn’t even blame them for robbing your house. or stealing your car. or whatever… ;)

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