It looks like nobody wants to add their location to their tweets… 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 we’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.
It’s worth noting that Twitter didn’t actually fully launch its Geolocation API to the public until 20 November 2009 so at best, we’re looking at one month of usage here. Still, that’s a low figure and as we observed recently, it doesn’t appear to have got much better recently. So, what what’s going on here? Most probably two factors are at play:
Firstly, most Twitter clients are yet to support geotagging and even if you’re using one that does, it’s not easy activate. Let’s say you’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 Twitter’s website. Most of the time this isn’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 there’s an uphill battle ahead if it wants apps built with its geolocation API to be truly useful.