Twitter is removing precise-location tagging on tweets — a small win for privacy but a small loss for journalists and researchers

For the past decade, location-tagged tweets have been a useful (if imperfect) tool for anyone trying to connect time, place, and information in ways that told us something about the world.

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When Twitter wants to announce a change in how it does things, how should they announce it? With a tweet, naturally: Twitter is removing the ability of its users to precisely geotag their tweets.

A tweet may seem like a simple data construct — just 280 characters! — but there’s a sea of metadata sloshing around each bon mot. And since 2009, one of those bits of metadata was the location from which the tweet was posted. The goal? To let you “better focus in on local conversations.” Location was opt-in, meaning it was disabled by default and users had to proactively decide to share that information from their phones. But they only had to decide once, and unless they turned it off, location data would barnacle onto their every tweet from then on.

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