Location APIs, Not Currently Eating the World

Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp have all removed timestamped location-specific data from their APIs. Is there any location check-in data from a major site anymore?


All of these sites’ APIs used to have some form of user check-ins in their APIs. I’m not sure why check-in data is gone now … The sites could be hiding app-usage from other sites (or investors?). Or possibly it prevents new apps from building competitive features first.

Those arguments shouldn’t hold water, or I’m missing something. Big corporations can buy a firehose of data like Gnip & derive check-ins without needing users to manually do it. And, preventing startups from coming up with new ideas isn’t typical in tech. Helping a dozen different apps to build & test new ideas, then buying the successful ones is even easier now that Google, Facebook, and Twitter are public. Had someone built a way for dry cleaners to track each other’s check-ins and Facebook/Yelp/etc couldn’t afford to let their advertisers feel cornered?

Regardless of why. It’s unfortunate and counterproductive to innovation.

After all, there’s a cheap firehose of location data available from mobile ad networks. A few dozen check-ins tracked in an API? How about 16,000 devices tracked at the Iowa Presidential caucases. Integrating with all those mobile ad exchanges is a bit time-consuming, but the data is higher-volume and a heck of a lot cheaper than Gnip’s. After all, the mobile ad exchanges are providing this latitude/longitude data for free: It’s part of the targeting data provided *before* an ad impression is purchased.


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