Users logging into Twitter today are seeing little notices before sending out a tweet, asking whether the user would like to turn on location-aware tweeting.
Twitter first made geolocation features available through its API back in mid-November, but this is the first time that the company has actually implemented them directly into the main Twitter site.
Turning on location can either mean broadcasting your exact location, your neighborhood, or even just your town. Once you opt-in, Twitter automatically discovers your location.
From then on, your tweets will at the bottom carry a little map marker, which, when hovered over, turns blue and summons a mini-Google map displaying the origin of that particular tweet.
So far, Twitter appears to be handling well the privacy issues associated with location broadcasting. The first step is requiring users to opt-in to take advantage of the service. Furthermore, the support page for the feature offers some pretty good common sense advice:
"It's already a good idea to be cautious and careful about the amount of information you share online. There may be some updates where you want to share your location ('The parade is starting now.' or 'A truck just spilled delicious candy all over the roadway!'), and some updates where you want to keep your location private. Just like you might not want to tweet your home address, please be cautious in tweeting coordinates you don't want others to see."
A nice little response to Please Rob Me?
Either way, the timing of the launch of location sharing on Twitter couldn't have been more calculated. Just a couple days ago, an anonymous source revealed that Facebook would be introducing its own location sharing services at the f8 conference, taking place next month. Besides that, competition over location sharing and interaction on mobile phones has gotten increasingly fierce recently, with Foursquare, Gowalla, and others repeatedly releasing new updates to outdo the others.