TinyURL and Social Media

TinyURL, the service that takes a long string URL such as http://www.amazon.com/Storm-Front-Dresden-Files-Book/dp/0451457811 and turns it into http://tinyurl.com/2kfq6x is useful for plugging into emails or twitters or other programs that dislike exceptionally long strings. It’s a great service, yes?

Maybe. From the TinyURL website comes a quote that illustrates my issues with it.

Hide your affiliate URLs:
Are you posting something that you don’t want people to know what the URL is because it might give away that it’s an affiliate link? Then you can enter a URL into TinyURL, and your affiliate link will be hidden from the visitor, only the tinyurl.com address and the ending address will be visible to your visitors.

This is a great service in social media expansion, but I am often hesitant to click on a TinyURL because you can’t see its underlying link! The final destination is, as it’s stated above, hidden. How do I know I’m going to something legitimate? Of course, I acknowledge that any URL can be redirected to something unsavory or evil, even www.cutekittens.com (which is an evil marketing website if there ever was one) could be redirected without your consent to www.cuteAND_EVILkittens.com (which hasn’t been registered yet, darn it). There’s no more actual safety in clicking on a URL you can see, any more than one that is hidden behind the TinyURL masking. Still, it is comforting, therefore of utility, to be able to see that you’re being linked to a cnn.com portal or that the url says www.bigbigbigbigbigbigOHMYGODITSBIG.com. I’ll probably click on the first one from an untrusted source, but definitely not the second.

I would suggest that TinyURL have an option to leave in the base domain and then cipher out the miscellaneous garbage at the end, which nobody reads anyway.

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5 Responses to TinyURL and Social Media

  1. Jeff says:

    Ahh, and there’s another problem. What if tinyUrl goes down? Now you’ve broken the internet model of domain name service. The internet works by having a bunch of nodes that know where “everything” is. If one node goes down you seemlessly (well, you hope) switch to another domain name server which then takes over marshaling your request. Now you throw tinyUrl into the max and you’ve lost the open nature of request routing and tinyUrl will control the world (muahahahaaaaaaa)!

  2. Bill says:

    You raise a good point. I think I was groping that way but stopped before I got there.

    I also forgot to mention that there are other services that accomplish the same task as TinyURL, such as URLTea.

    It’s all moot, because the only time we should be using this is on Twitter, and if Twitter dies, who cares?

  3. Bill says:

    Oh, and apparently I’ve been scooped by 9 days. Damn! http://ask.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/11/18/1319201&from=rss

  4. Bill says:

    It’s hard to give that url over the phone…

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