In an effort to remove the obscurity of shortened links and to prevent malware and phishing attacks, Twitter has begun the rollout t.co, its official URL shortener, along with some major changes to how the microblogging platform handles links.
In a blog post aptly titled Links and Twitters: Length Shouldn’t Matter, Twitter’s Sean Garrett announced that the company is taking a new approach to URLs. Not only will all links on Twitter.com and Twitter apps be “wrapped” in t.co links, but how they are counted against the 140 character limit. These change will occur throughout the summer.
What’s Happening with t.co
The first change is the auto-wrapping of links with the t.co short URL. This URL will replace twt.tl, which the company has been using to shorten links in direct messages for several months. However, you won’t see t.co appear very often, if at all, on Twitter.com or your favorite Twitter app, because the company is changing how links are treated on the platform.
Whenever it’s possible to display a longer link, Twitter will display that URL information so that users aren’t fooled by obscure links that turn out to be malware. Twitter’s example is http://www.amazon.com/Delivering-Happiness-Profits-Passion-Purpose/dp/0446563048/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1275966329&sr=8-1%22, which links to Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s new book. In a text message, you’d see the link automatically turned into a t.co link (due to the SMS character limit), but on Twitter.com, it will display either part of the link (amazon.com/Delivering-), the page title, or the entire link. What will exactly be displayed has yet to be decided.
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