Twitter announced on their blog yesterday that they will be providing automatic link shortening via their t.co link shortener. This change isn’t yet live for all accounts, but should be rolling out soon.
Now when users enter a URL into Twitter, it will automatically shorten it to 19 characters. You will be notified next to the Tweet button that the link will be shortened, and after you hit the Tweet button the link will be shortened. The t.co link shortener was previously only available to people who used the official Tweet button on a site, and it is fantastic that this will now be available through the Twitter website.
Why You Care About the Twitter URL Shortener
The Twitter URL shortener provides two main advantages aside from just shortening your URL, and these advantages make it nicer than other ULR shorteners (though also not as short).
- Mystery Links: the Twitter URL shortener provides a shortened version of your link, rather than a random jumble of characters. This is often frustrating in Twitter because you sometimes have no idea what a posted link is for, since you can’t even see the domain name of the link. Now instead of seeing //bit.ly/2lffle you can instead see: thedomain.com/startofurl… Not only does help you decide if you really want to click on a link, but it can also increase the number of people who click on links from your Twitter feed, since they can click with more confidence.
- Malicious Links: Twitter also keeps track of links that are reported as malicious. The widespread use of URL shorteners on Twitter makes it very easy for people to hide obviously unrelated and malicious links to malware sites in innocent-seeming tweets. But if you clink on a Twitter shortened link that is reported as malicious, Twitter will first direct you to a page that warns you that the link may be bad.
The Twitter URL shortener being added automatically to Tweets is a fantastic move. Now we can just hope that Twitter opens up their t.co URL shortener to be used to shorten any link, rather than just links in Twitter feeds.