This week Twitter announced that it will be removing precise location functionality from tweets, but its still available on its in-built camera and has been since March.
Because nothing says privacy like adding photos of yourself to a tweet that reveals exactly where you are.
Twitter revealed its decision to ditch the Precise Location feature in a tweet from its Twitter Support account.
The tweet explained that most users don’t tag their precise locations and that the platform was looking to simplify the experience.
Most people don't tag their precise location in Tweets, so we're removing this ability to simplify your Tweeting experience. You'll still be able to tag your precise location in Tweets through our updated camera. It's helpful when sharing on-the-ground moments.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) June 18, 2019
There was no mention of privacy concerns as a potential reason for the removal of the location feature – or how it’s still relevant when you simply move the same feature into a camera.
While geo tagging your tweets has always been optional, Twitter has had information sharing issues in the past.
One such bug resulted in rather large and generic location (for example, ‘Sydney’) sharing in a tweet actually revealed GPS coordinates.
This issue was resolved 2015 and the app now asks for permission when it came to precise location sharing. If a user agreed to sharing this, it would reveal their longitude and latitude.
Whether this function fell out of favour due to a lack of interest or privacy concerns is unclear. Either way, as online security becomes increasingly important to people, social media platforms need to do a better job with transparency and education.
Users have a right to know exactly what information is being shared and they shouldn’t have to dig through settings to figure it out.
Which is exactly why Twitter users will still need to be careful if they tag their location through Twitter’s camera functionality. Because now you could potentially be adding where you are, but with added photos of yourself, who you’re with and what your surroundings are.
While one could argue that this is useful for the likes of meeting up with people, protests, etc – it’s still a lot of information to be sharing public. And it could still be easy to do accidentally.
As the Twitter help pages says:
“If you are using Twitter for Android or Twitter for iOS, the Tweet may also include your precise location (i.e., the GPS coordinates from which you Tweeted), which can be found through the Twitter API, in addition to the location label you select.”
If you want to use Twitter’s camera function to share a general location such as a country or city, be sure to only pop a general label on the tweet. Go into the app settings and check what is being shared so you don’t accidentally put your GPS coordinates on blast. You can learn more on Twitter’s help page.
This post has been updated to reflect that the precise location sharing functionality has been available in Twitter’s built-in camera since March. It has also been brought to our attention that the GPS coordinate issue prior to 2015 was a bug as opposed to an intentional feature. We regret the error.