URL shortening is beginning to become popular as services such as Twitter — which allows no more than 140 characters — also grows in popularity, but what is stopping someone from using these shortened URLs to link people to harmful sites?
It is particularly bothersome that safety has not been the main concern with these links. I first saw one in a LinkedIn forum where a user asked why he was not getting many hits to his website where he then pasted in a TinyURL link. I repled, “UMM… you’re probably not getting hits because your urls looks like porn spam!?”
As a visitor, you can’t see where the link is going to take you. And keep in mind, most social networks including Facebook and MySpace are still battling phishing websites that use “normal” links to mislead unsuspecting web users. So how are these same networks going to address redirecting urls? Furthermore, how will publishers be able to track clicks when using url shortening?
There are some helpful options for Firefox such as LongURLPlease — an Add-On that shows long urls in replacement of the short urls so you can atleast see what you are clicking. Unfortunately, it does not work with Facebook yet.
While Googling the issue it took 20 minutes to find equally outraged people! Is no one else concerned by these convenient yet suspicious new web tools? How do you get around using them?