Beginning next month, Facebook will include location-based status updates into its makeup, allowing all 400 million-plus users to update not just with short text blurbs, but with current location as well. Twitter activated geo-location on their status as well, just in time for South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas – one of the biggest tech gatherings in the nation.
Twitter activated their geo-location through the API in November, but did not incorporate it into status updates until yesterday. Facebook, meanwhile, updated their privacy settings (to much controversy) in November, setting a new policy allowing for the location-based updates. Those updates will launch late next month at Facebook’s f8 conference.
According to the New York Times, Facebook does promise to make the location updates optional so that users can participate (or not) as they wish.
Both Facebook and Twitter have been eyeballing the geo-location apps that have hit mainstream for months and many believed that either would make a move to buy out either or both of the major players in geo-location games (Foursquare and Gowalla). So far, that hasn’t happened and it’s become clear that Facebook, at least, plans to compete with them rather than try to absorb them.
TechCrunch unveiled the Twitter update, which includes overlay maps of the user’s location when a location-based tag has been added to a tweet. The update is by no means seamless, however, with some tweets appearing as place names and others appearing as map overlays. Some don’t appear at all, as I failed to get either to work on my own Twitter account. It is possible, of course, that Twitter is rolling this out slowly over accounts in the network.
In either case, it looks like the new location-based war is on with everyone getting in on the action.