Twitter officially launched their location feature back in March, but today the company began actively promoting location and gave users the option of turning on the feature. This is a relatively big deal for a number of reasons but most significant is that Twitter is having users opt-in to sharing their location, not forcing it upon users as Facebook has done with their “Instant Personalization” program.
While we’d expect Facebook to let users optionally share their location information, Twitter’s decision to have users explicitly turn on the location feature should be cheered by privacy advocates. In addition to it being a subtle jab against Facebook, it also gives users the opportunity to opt-in to additional functionality. Personally, I believe this is the way Facebook should roll out all new features as it’s both elegant and supports users’ right to control their privacy.
There’s also increasing buzz about Facebook’s new location feature which AdAge suggested last week should be rolling out as soon as later this month. While the implementation is still unknown, Techcrunch recently published additional details about features being included within Facebook location including altitude, heading, and speed in addition to the traditional longitude and latitude tracked by other location services.
Additionally, Facebook is expected to have an explicit “Check In” button and a directory of places that users can check in to. While there is ongoing debate as to whether or not Facebook’s location feature will immediately replace the need of Gowalla and Foursquare, there’s no doubt that Twitter and Facebook’s desire to track location is based on the massive marketing opportunity provided by such services.