Just eight tweets could give away where you work and live – and anyone who wanted to, could work it out, not just tech whizzes.
Anyone who enables their tweets to be tagged with a location via GPS could be revealing more than they think, as scientists reveal the information can be used to work out these key locations to a high degree of accuracy by even "low-tech snoopers".
"Many people have this idea that only machine-learning techniques can discover interesting patterns in location data, And they feel secure that not everyone has the technical knowledge to do that," said Ilaria Liccardi, a research scientist at MIT’s Internet Policy Research Initiative and an author of the research which was also done with Oxford University.
With this study, what we wanted to show is that when you send location data as a secondary piece of information, it is extremely simple for people with very little technical knowledge to find out where you work or live.
Groups of people in Oxford and Boston took part in the Where's Wally-like study.
They were given a range of data, from one days worth of tweets to five days, with no information about the contents of the tweet, just the street name location and time – morning, afternoon or evening. They were then asked to try and identify the workplace and home from the information.
They guessed accurately 85 per cent of the time when given five days of tweet data.
While the location feature on Twitter is automatically off by default, many users activate it, and the Internet Policy Research Initiative is researching just how such actions influence peoples privacy.
So, if you're ever sharing your location via Twitter, you might want to think twice about just what it's revealing.