I have two good reasons why you should consider using the location field for its intended purpose:
- You’re not being as clever as you think (see below).
- One of the best uses of Twitter is finding out what is happening locally.
Personally, I will almost always follow someone local to me. If you’re a postman in Hull, then who cares, but if you might be my postman, then you could be really interesting to follow.
You don’t have to type out your whole address or anything. City or county is close enough to be handy.
An analysis of the non-geographic information entered into the location field revealed it to be highly unpredictable in nature. A striking trend was the theme of Justin Bieber, who is a teenage singer. A surprising 61 users (more than 1 in 200 users) co-opted the location field to express their appreciation of the pop star. For instance, a user wrote that s/he is located in “Justin Biebers heart” and another user indicated s/he is from “Bieberacademy”. Justin Bieber was not the only pop star that received plaudits from within the location field; United Kingdom “singing” duo Jedward, Britney Spears, and the Jonas Brothers were also turned into popular “locations”.
Another common theme involved users co-opting the location field to express their desire to keep their location private. One user wrote “not telling you” in the location field and another populated the field with “NON YA BISNESS!!” Sexual content was also quite frequent, as were “locations” that were insulting or threatening to the reader (e.g. “looking down on u people”). Additionally, there was a prevalent trend of users entering non-Earth locations such as “OUTTA SPACE” and “Jupiter”.
A relatively large number of users leveraged the location field to express their displeasure about their current location. For instance, one user wrote “preferably anywhere but here” and another entered “redneck hell”.
Entering non-real geographic information into the location field was so prevalent that it even inspired some users in our sample to make jokes about the practice. For instance, one user populated the location field with “(insert clever phrase here)”.