The Trouble With URL Shorteners

I have just finished reading this post about URL shortening services and it got me thinking.

I use URL shorteners on the odd occasion but I have a problem with them. Answer the following simple question: What is the destination of the following links (and no peeking by clicking on them first):

  1. http://bit.ly/guNtb
  2. Zithromax dosage

Hopefully this highlights the problem: You don’t know where you are going to when you click on the links provided by these URL shortening services! This seems to me to be an area ripe for Internet scams (especially if you use Internet Explorer); I am thinking links to porn sites, links that download the latest malware on to your PC etc; there are endless possibilities!

What I would like to see is some kludge so that when you hover over one of these shortened URLs you can see the destination of the link. Sure, not all URLs indicate what exactly awaits you at the other end of it, and, in the case of Twitter, if it is someone that you are following then you can be fairly confident that they aren’t going to send you somewhere you really don’t want to go (or maybe you do). Still, there is definitely room for improvement.

4 thoughts on “The Trouble With URL Shorteners

  1. Rob Hudson

    If you add a plus onto any bitly url it shows you an info page: http://bit.ly/guNtb+

    Applications such as Tweetdeck show you this preview information when you click on a link. It'd be good to have a javascript library that did some kind of page preview though…

  2. Julien

    Or you can use a safe URL shortener such as Safe.mn (http://safe.mn/). It does check the link for you, and give a warning (phishing, adult content, virus, etc.) if anything is wrong instead of a redirection..

  3. Rob Hudson

    If you add a plus onto any bitly url it shows you an info page: http://bit.ly/guNtb+

    Applications such as Tweetdeck show you this preview information when you click on a link. It'd be good to have a javascript library that did some kind of page preview though…

  4. jsobrier

    Or you can use a safe URL shortener such as Safe.mn (http://safe.mn/). It does check the link for you, and give a warning (phishing, adult content, virus, etc.) if anything is wrong instead of a redirection..

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