More and more as you enter the Internet you lose anonymity. Unless you really work hard to cover your tracks its likely companies know lots about you based on what you do online. They don’t need to know your name to effectively sell to you. Often they do anyway.
Recently I coded a Twitter search request¹ to send me a stream of every tweet within 15 miles of here. Twitter still doesn’t know where most people are, but the number they do know grows each day.
If you’re using Twitter on a mobile device with built-in GPS capabilities there’s an excellent chance Twitter knows where you are!
Advertisers want to know too. Geolocation has immense potential to unlock local markets for national salesforces.
Geolocation’s power is so obvious the mere thought must be intoxicating to Google and Yahoo! and the others who will take advantage. Tragically they’ll be selling ads in competition with my employer. It will be a tough fight.
Generally, Twitter users follow people. By following you filter the tweets you see. Twitterers you don’t follow are invisible to you. There’s a whole twitisphere you mostly don’t see.
By screening for location alone the bias of selection is removed. If Twitter knows a tweet originates near me I see it.
The 15 mile localized tweetstream is a weird collection! It is good and bad and in between.
What I do is cyber eavesdropping. I admit it. Often I’m deep inside the lives of people I’d otherwise never come in contact with. Like a fly on the wall they have no idea I’m reading.
I’m not the only one intercepting these communiques. They’re too valuable not to be commercially mined.
Revealing and personal tweets often come encoded with the latitude and longitude of the user! Click on a tweet and connect to a map with the location of the person who sent it! I can’t imagine the people who make these tweets even suspect this is happening. They are naifs!
The potential for abuse is incredibly high.
This morsel of wisdom floated through the Internet over the weekend.
“If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.”
Beware! In the end the companies which profit from this data will make the decisions on what’s fair use. You will have little say.