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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Breaking: Twitter Breaks Tweets with URL Shortener

Twitter Broken URL

I just got a newsletter from twitter. They are rolling out their URL shortener.

Their method of partially expanding shortened URL's will break tweets when people COPY and PASTE them.
Update 2: t.co URL wrapping

In the coming weeks, we will be expanding the roll-out of our link wrapping service t.co, which wraps links in Tweets with a new, simplified link. Wrapped links are displayed in a way that is easier to read, with the actual domain and part of the URL showing, so that you know what you are clicking on. When you click on a wrapped link, your request will pass through the Twitter service to check if the destination site is known to contain malware, and we then will forward you on to the destination URL. All of that should happen in an instant.

You will start seeing these links on certain accounts that have opted-in to the service; we expect to roll this out to all users by the end of the year. When this happens, all links shared on Twitter.com or third-party apps will be wrapped with a t.co URL.

What does this mean for me?

A really long link such as http://www.amazon.com/Delivering-Happiness-Profits-Passion-Purpose/dp/0446563048 might be wrapped as http://t.co/DRo0trj for display on SMS, but it could be displayed to web or application users as amazon.com/Delivering- or as the whole URL or page title.
You will start seeing links in a way that removes the obscurity of shortened links and lets you know where each link will take you.
When you click on these links from Twitter.com or a Twitter application, Twitter will log that click. We hope to use this data to provide better and more relevant content to you over time.
Thanks for reading this important update. Come and check what's new at http://twitter.com.
It's a bad implementation.

See my earlier post, Dear Twitter: Don't Break YouTube Video Shortened Links, for a closer look at the problems that t.co introduces.

Follow me on twitter @stevegarfield :-)

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