RealTime IT News

Twitter's Geotagging Goes Live

Twitter has made good on its promise to add its name to the growing number of Web sites offering geolocation services, turning on the geotagging API it announced in August.

Twitter is rolling out its geotagging feature in something of a soft launch. At first, the feature is only available to developers with third-party Twitter applications, such as Birdfeed, Seesmic Web and Foursquare, which have already integrated the feature.

"This release is unique in that it's API-only which means you won't see any changes on Twitter.com, yet," said Twitter Platform Director Ryan Sarver, hinting that

That follows the roadmap Twitter co-founder Biz Stone laid out in August, explaining that the company would turn the geotagging API over to developers before integrating it to the home page.

"Later, we'll add it to our mobile web site and Twitter.com as well," Stone said.

That graduated release model follows Twitter's approach to the retweet feature, for which it only recently began offering on-site support, though that launch quickly hit a technical snag and has been in limbo since.

In stepping into the geotagging arena, Twitter joins the swelling ranks of products and services offering a variety of location-based features, including Google Latitude and Yahoo's Fire Eagle.

Twitter's geotagging ability is disabled by default, requiring users to change their settings to activate it. This stems from the obvious privacy concerns that crop up when devices and applications are given the ability to track and report the location of their users.

Twitter has also update its privacy policy to give a more explicit description of how the geotagging feature works.

Separately, Twitter has altered the fundamental starting point of the service, replacing the essential prompt, "What are you doing?" with the more economical, "What's happening?"

Stone explained the change as a response to the wide range of uses people and businesses have found for Twitter, claiming that the more open-ended prompt better reflects what the service has become.

"The fundamentally open model of Twitter created a new kind of information network and it has long outgrown the concept of personal status updates," Stone said. "'What are you doing?' isn't the right question anymore."