Twitter said to be toying with local discovery

Steven Loeb · April 25, 2013 · Short URL:

New feature would allow users to see tweets of people they do not follow within a certain radius

As we have seen time and again, Twitter has become the go-to place for breaking news around the world, whether it be riots in Iran, the overthrow of the Egyptian government, Hurricane Sandy this past Fall or even the recent events in Boston. But is there a better way for Twitter to inform me on the happenings near me?

Apparently, Twitter is trying to figure out that out.  

Twitter is testing out a feature that will allow users to see tweets from other users that are within a specified radius of their location, according to a report from AllThingsD on Thursday.

These tweets would come from all other users, even ones that the user in question does not follow, in order to give them relevant information on activity happening around them. 

There are multiple ways a feature like this could be used. Of course, it could show you which friends of yours might be in the immediate area. It could also be used in a situation like the Boston bombing, telling people if their area is safe, which places to steer clear of and updates about the situation.

The most logical use of the feature though, I suspect, will be free local advertising for small businesses. All a business has to do is send out a tweet about an event happening at their local establishment and it will be read by a bunch of people in the immediate area, without the business having had to do any paid promotions.

It is a little surprising that it took Twitter so long to start working on something like this, especially since other social networks already have released apps and features to help find people in the area.

In June of last year, Facebook debuted its Find Friends Nearby App feature, which allow users to see everyone them who has a Facebook page, given that they are currently using the feature. 

The debut of Find Friends Nearby came two months after Facebook purchased Glancee, which allows users to find people with similar interests nearby. It takes a users "likes" and compares them to the "likes" of other people around them. So, if you're in a coffee shop, you might get an alert from Glancee that someone with similar interests is nearby. You can then check them out on your phone and see what you have in common.

FourSquare has also put an emphasis on discovery, updating its app last year to open up to a map showing a users friends, places that are trending, places on their lists, places with Specials, and places that are popular.

Then there are apps dedicated solely to people discovery, like Kismet, which allows users to see which of their friends are in the area, even if they do not have the Kismet app installed. Other companies, like Sonar and Banjo, offer a similar service, allowing people to find each other across social networks.

There is also Nextdoor, which acts as a social network for neighborhoods, so that people who connect with people who live near them. And there a slew of apps designed to help people find dates, includong Grindr, which is a social discovery app geared toward gay, bisexual, and bi-curious men. 

Of course, Twitter, with over 200 million active users, has the advantage of both numbers and trust over most of these other apps. Leveraging that status toward local discovery will only make the service more useful.

Twitter could not be reached for further comment. 

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Kismet connects you to your existing friends in the real world by simplifying getting together face to face. We show you which of your friends are nearby or alert you when the app isn't open, then make it simple to invite them to meet you.

When you're planning to get together with a group of any size, Kismet makes the experience simpler and more social. Users can invite their friends whether or not they are Kismet users. Non-users can easily reply from the web or their phone without having to install the app.

No longer do you need to send hundreds of text messages or try to follow long email threads just to meet for Happy Hour. Users are also notified automatically when other users arrive and depart the event, meaning you’ll never have to ask “Are you here yet?” 

Kismet was one of the most talked about companies of SXSW 2012, in the hot "ambient location" and "social discovery" space. Founded in 2011, Kismet was part of AngelPad's Winter 2011 class of startups, and has been lauded as one of the most privacy and user conscious apps in the space., Inc.


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Nextdoor ( is a private social network for the neighborhood. Using Nextdoor’s free online platform, neighbors create private neighborhood websites where members can ask questions, get to know one another and exchange local advice and recommendations. Nextdoor is specifically designed to provide a trusted environment for neighbor-to-neighbor communication. Hundreds of neighborhoods are already using Nextdoor to build happier, safer places to call home.

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