Twitter might have ruffled some feathers at link shortening services like bit.ly and tinyURL with its latest announcement. On Monday Twitter informed developers that it plans to use its own T.co domain to wrap all links on Twitter. Twitters link shortening service will make all links no more than 20 characters in length, even if the original link was less than 20 characters. By shortening each of the tens of millions of links submitted to Twitter each day Twitter is making other link shortening services no longer needed.
When Twitter originally launched the link shortening service it did so as an automatic way for users to share links without having to go through third party services. Twitter says this change will, “help it protect users from malicious content while offering useful insights on engagement.” This sounds to us like a way for Twitter to make some money by selling these “useful insights on engagement” to third parties.
Originally Twitter’s link shortening service could be used in conjunction with other shortening services. As long as the link entered into Twitter was fewer than 13 characters Twitter would not alter the link. Now no matter how short the link entered into Twitter it will be wrapped in a T.co domain. You will still be able to see the origin of the original link in the tweet, but it will go through Twitter before heading to the final destination.
This is yet another move by Twitter that seems to directly edge out third party companies that make money off of Twitter. Twitter also recently announced its own picture service which also seems to go after companies that provide very similar services.
Ultimately if this service provides a safer experience for users by helping them avoid clicking on phishing links then it is a welcome change in our book. Hopefully whatever information Twitter decides to gather through this service will help keep Twitter as ad free as possible, even with the Presidential election coming up.