Cyber QuickTip: Shortened URLs

Put Those Lengthy URLs on a Diet Before Summer

Do you get frustrated when someone sends you a lengthy Uniform Record Locator (URL) in an email and the URL doesn’t work, causing you to cut and paste it into your browser? There are URL shortening services available on the Internet that allow you to transform this: into this: You are directed to the same destination, but with a much more elegant, slimmed down version, sort of like transforming Kirstie Alley into Audrey Hepburn.

Two of the better known, free URL shortening services are TinyURL and, each popularized by the micro-blogging site Twitter as the original and subsequent default services. Since the character limitation of Twitter (140) prevented the use of bloated URLs, the availability of these services was a welcome addition to the micro-blogging arsenal.

Caution, Caution Will Robinson. While you may be using URL shortening for a legitimate business purpose, not to mention as a time-saver for your recipients, there are some of the more nefarious elements in cyber-society who are doing so to mask the underlying site. There is evidence that foreign countries, pornography sites and other illicit businesses may have been able to hide the purpose of their sites due to this type of masking.

In addition, some sites may block shortened URLs as a form of Spam control. Some of the less well known and funded services, if they get closed or shut down, no longer support the redirection, resulting in the condition known as ‘linkrot’. Sidebar: Don’t you just love the new language that crops up with technology changes?

So the next time you have a lengthy URL, try your hand at one of these services. At least the URL will be summer worthy.