It looks like nobody wants to add their location to their tweetsâ€¦ yet.
When Twitter announced its geolocation API last summer it was hailed by some as a revolution that would power all sorts of innovation. While weâ€™ve seen some interesting uses of the technology so far, it looks like as of yet Twitter geotagging is a minority sport.
Research firm Sysomos studied Twitter usage between mid-October and mid-December 2009 and found that only 0.23% of tweets in that time period were geotagged.
Itâ€™s worth noting that Twitter didnâ€™t actually fully launch its Geolocation API to the public until 20 November 2009 so at best, weâ€™re looking at one month of usage here. Still, thatâ€™s a low figure and as we observed recently, it doesnâ€™t appear to have got much better recently. So, what whatâ€™s going on here? Most probably two factors are at play:
Firstly, most Twitter clients are yet to support geotagging and even if youâ€™re using one that does, itâ€™s not easy activate. Letâ€™s say youâ€™re using Tweetie 2, Tweetdeck for iPhone, Twidroid or another geo-enabled app. Even if you switch geotagging on in the app, it also needs to be switched on in your account settings at Twitterâ€™s website. Most of the time this isnâ€™t explained to users by the app. As a result many users may not be geotagging tweets even if they think they are.
Secondly, as I wrote last summer, many people see giving their current location away as a compromise of their own privacy. While some early adopters may be keen to share everything (even down to their credit card purchases) online, the average user is a long way from ready to live their online life fully in public.
Twitter is taking location seriously, as its recent acquisition of Mixer Labs confirms. However, it looks like thereâ€™s an uphill battle ahead if it wants apps built with its geolocation API to be truly useful.