Twitter Places enhances location services

Ronny Kerr · June 15, 2010 · Short URL:

Users can now append detailed venue information to tweets, with or without Foursquare, Gowalla

Twitter PlacesThree months after turning on location-aware tweeting site-wide (and over half a year since that same service launched in its API), Twitter is now rolling out Twitter Places.

Launching simultaneously on both and, Twitter Places lets users attach locations to their tweets as they have been able to before, but now with more detail. For example, one can now include the information "Whole Food Markets, 399 4th St., San Francisco, CA" instead of merely reporting "San Francisco, CA."

Twitter geo team member Othman Laraki offers the recent World Cup madness as a good example of when geo-location tagging with Twitter Places might come in handy.

"If you're like everyone at the Twitter office, you're going crazy about the World Cup," writes Laraki. "When turning to Twitter to keep up with the current game, it helps to know where a Tweet is coming from—is that person watching the game on TV or is he actually in the stadium?"

Thanks to partnerships with TomTom and Localeze, Twitter Places is launching in 65 countries over the next week.

As per usual, Twitter is releasing the API for Twitter Places so that third-party developers can integrate Twitter Places into their applications.

Somewhat unexpectedly (though convenient), Twitter has worked closely with two major location-based social networks, Foursquare and Gowalla, to ensure that check-in tweets from those services sync seamlessly with locations shared via Twitter Places. For mobile Twitter users who use neither client, Twitter Places will be rolling out to native Android, BlackBerry, and iPhone applications soon.

Finally, Twitter also announced that its location services now work with Internet Explorer and Safari, in addition to Firefox and Chrome.

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.