NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Twitter ( TWTR) is testing a new feature known as Nearby Tweets, allowing users to have a list of recent messages from others who are in their general vicinity. The geographically selected tweets can come from users you may or may not be following on Twitter.
The Web version of the Nearby Tweets test page consists of a Google ( GOOG) map base with the user's general vicinity highlighted in blue. Messages from five nearby microbloggers are displayed in timeline form at the top of the page in descending order. You can choose to see five more local tweets at a time. Clicking on one of those tweets takes you directly to that user's full Twitter page.
The new feature also allows users to narrow down their search by keywords being used by nearby bloggers. The idea is reminiscent of how Foursquare is used.
For Twitter it could become an important revenue stream. All of that newly gathered data could then be marketed to advertisers for super accurate targeting of local users.
The Wall Street Journal reports the goal for Twitter will be to integrate the new "Nearby" features into its smartphone application. It's described as:
"The upper half of the "Nearby" screen is a map where a blue dot pulses over the user's current location. The bottom half shows a timeline of recent nearby tweets, with icons on the map noting their locations. Clicking on an icon pulls the corresponding tweet to the front of the screen.
As you move around the map, more picture-linked tweets pop up in a manner similar to the way shopping carts spring up when searching for grocery stores on Google Maps."
Some Twitter users have reportedly seen the new test features appear in their mobile apps within the past few weeks.
Using the Nearby feature is reported voluntary. Is is believed Tweeters will be able opt out of the service by changing their location settings.
We have asked Twitter for an official comment on the testing and possible release of its new location-based feature.
Written by Gary Krakow in New York.
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