A Twitter spokesman told Engadget that the change was still gradually rolling out on its platform. The social media marketing platform will still ask for use of a user’s precise location to exhibit them local content — such as for instance ads and recommendations. To put it differently, Twitter can still access to your precise location (in the event that you give it permission), however in most cases you’ll no further be able to share it along with other users.
Location tagging happens to be a tricky subject for Twitter, especially in matters of privacy. Some users think it is beneficial to reveal their location in order to connect with nearby users, such as for example at a protest or concert. While geotagging on Twitter has been opt-in since it launched during 2009, users wound up revealing significantly more than they intended by sharing their precise location. Tagging a place in a tweet — even something as general as “New York City” or “Dodger Stadium” revealed a person’s GPS coordinates. Twitter did not fix this problem until April 2015, when it began asking users for permission to reveal their “precise location”– meaning their location down seriously to the exact longitude and latitude.
Back in January, a set of international researchers found that the metadata of old tweets ahead of the policy change still revealed precise GPS coordinates. Jason Polakis, one of several researchers, told Engadget that while Wednesday’s policy change was a “step up the proper direction”, it did not solve the difficulty entirely since users could still share their precise location in photos.
Still, precise location sharing is only a problem if users do not know whatever they’re getting into. Compared to that end, Twitter likely needs to do a better job of educating users as to how precise the area data they are revealing actually is. Polakis added that Twitter made no reference to retroactively removing old tweets that shared precise location data. Polakis said that after his team published their research, Twitter still refused to remove old location-tagged tweets. “In Twitter’s post there’s absolutely no mention of retroactively removing precise locations from older tweets. As soon as we had published our research, Twitter had stated that they did not do that since it did not seem appropriate to do so without user consent. I imagine that they will haven’t done that now either,” wrote Polakis in a message. A Twitter spokesperson confirmed that Polakis is correct as well as the platform won’t be removing precise location data from old tweets.
Considering that most users don’t agree to share their precise location to begin with, it’s clear that this is an undesired feature on the social networking platform. While revealing the town you live in or the fact that you attended Coachella is one thing, sharing your exact GPS coordinates on a public platform is entirely different — especially months and on occasion even years down the line. Twitter’s decision to disable its precise location feature is a confident one, especially as users are more privacy-conscious.