Twitter recently introduced its link shortening service for links posted only on its site. While before you needed to use a third party link shortening service to help meet Twitter’s 140 character limit, now Twitter can automatically shorten your links for you.
Apart from the obvious function of automatically shortening long links on its site, Twitter’s rational for providing this service is primarily to protect its users from malicious online activity. Believe me, I tweet quite often @tiandavis, so I can appreciate the security concerns.
But honestly, it’s really hard for me to buy the security rational. On Twitter you associate yourself with people you know and have interest in. Why would these people post malicious links? Will we lose some essence of freedom of expression once Twitter starts playing TweetCop?
The new link service will result in close monitoring of posted links as links will be cross referenced with a list of potentially dangerous sites. If the link is identified as dangerous, a screen will appear, notifying users of the possible harmful nature of the linked site.
With this service, Twitter also adds another metric to determine the relevancy and interest of Tweets and have plans to provide services in the future that would make use of this data.
Twitter’s effort to increase safety and improve user experience is commendable. But, a drawback of this service is that it naturally discourages the use of third party URL shortening services like bit.ly who offer the bonus of a metrics platform that enables link trend analysis.
I hope I’m wrong, but I predict Twitter won’t share link click data with Tweeters. Off course, I’m sure you’ll be able to see the click data in a commercial account. Also, with link clicks becoming a factor in the new Resonance Algorithm, Tweeters who use bit.ly will be penalized when their clicks aren’t counted.
Twitter’s move to provide its own link shortening service may be a signal that it’s beginning the push to further monetize the “Tweet” communication platform. And I guess I really can’t blame them for wanting to. They are in business after all.