Update: So apparently Bing Maps isn’t revealing protect tweets, merely tweets by protected users from before they started protecting them. My bad, that makes it better. How about Microsoft hides all the tweets of people who list themselves as “protected?”
Being a late-comer to all technologies, I finally got inspired by Blaise Aquera y Arcas‘s latest Ted talk about his work on Bing Maps to download Silverlight (a required download to access Bing Maps upgraded functionality and their Photosynth project) and check out the interface. Very impressive, despite not having all the functionality that he demoed. I frolicked around a bit, very pleased with the user interface and discovered the app function he demoed. Being a twitterer, I tacked it on and took a look to see if it could see me. It didn’t. What it found was much worse.
I tapped into the neighborhood where I generally tweet from, where I’ve tweeted from today in fact, and saw that it did not display my tweets. Somewhat disappointed, I looked at people who were tweeting in the area. This is what that page looked like:
Those two users appear to be in a relationship, given the nature of their interactions, which granted, are limited on Twitter. I clicked on his link, which worked fine, but then I tried hers and found this:
So I went back and checked, and sure enough I had access to her entire timeline, despite her not wanting anyone she wasn’t friend’s with to have access to her account. Is this a failing on Twitter’s part for not securing their computers against Microsoft’s? or an infringement by Microsoft for tapping into “secret information” and publishing it? Regardless, this poor girl’s boring particulars are privy to perver…er, people like me: possessing even half a brain-cell in Internet know-how. Imagine if someone malicious were to access this information.
While a formidable ‘net tool, I think Microsoft should either redact their Twitter Map service from Bing, or else change their policies to reflect the wishes of Twitter users. If someone chooses to keep their Twitter account available publicly, it should appear in the query; but, if you’re like “@ta—” and have your account blocked, your account should not be generated in the search. For this reason I’ve created a petition, which I intend to email to Microsoft should it reach its goal of 50,000. Mind you, for some reason or another I don’t appear on Bing Maps, so I’m in the clear – this whole thing’s for those of you who keep their tweets on the private-like.