Political Risk Exposure and Social Media

URL shortening was rarely seen anywhere other than micro-blogging platforms such as Twitter and Status Net’s identi.ca. Shortened URL’s are not prudent from an information security point-of-view, as one takes a leap of faith by clicking on a link that is not descriptive. Descriptive links are also preferable for economic reasons, as they are reputed to figure positively in the mysterious world of search engine optimization (SEO) for page rank.

Yet shortened URL’s are gaining acceptance. They are very convenient.

Coat of arms of Libya public domain image

Libyan Hawk of Qureish via Wikipedia

Twitter introduced its own shortening service in September. Facebook did too. Google provided URL shortening with its goo.gl product in December 2009. Google expanded the range of goo.gl for use on any domain, as it was restricted for use with Google product pages before October. However, there is a new and surprising consideration when making a case for, or against, URL shortening: Political risk exposure.

Top-level domains (TLD’s) are assigned by ICANN. Generally speaking, each sovereign nation has its own TLD. For example, websites registered in Australia use the .au suffix, German sites are .de , while Japanese sites are .jp . The Libyan Government is the official registrar, as designated by ICANN in 2005, for all .ly sites, which are also the domain-of-choice for leading URL shortening services bit.ly , ow.ly and vb.ly .  What will be the consequences of Libya’s domain seizure of vb.ly on October 6, reported by Econsultancy- When All Your Shortlinks Belong to the Libyan Government, on these .ly URLs?

RowFeeder is a social media oriented web analytics service. It stands out from the glut of other Twitter-verse services by delivering reports directly to a spreadsheet. In the RowFeeder company site’s latest post, lead developer and co-founder Damon Cortesi described a new feature for RowFeeder customers: availability of URL shortener bit.ly.

URL shortener feature for RowFeeder service

RowFeeder Offers URL Shortening with bit.ly

You can now put a bit.ly link in the tracking field, and have a new column in your downloads with bit.ly click counts at the time of each post… [storing] the click data along with the Tweets and Facebook posts about a specific piece of content.

In light of the recent disruption in the .ly domain space, I enjoyed the closing lines of the announcement:

Please note: This feature has not been approved by the Libyan government, so count clicks at your own risk. Our vb.ly integration is on hold pending recent news.

*Emphasis is NOT mine.

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Published in: on November 14, 2010 at 10:06 pm  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Good write up here. Ironic that you wrote this in November and now with the revolutions in the Middle East such as with Libya it’s bringing light to this in a big way. I replied to you in my blog, but the domains will still work because the servers for them are located outside of the country the TLD is in (example used with bit.ly is that a few of the servers are in other countries — only two are in Libya). The two that are in Libya would not work, but the rest would so the TLD would still work.

    Here is the Quora post from the CEO of Bit.ly that answers the question to.

    http://www.quora.com/What-will-happen-to-http-bit-ly-links-if-Gaddafi-shuts-down-the-Internet-in-Libya-due-to-protests/answer/John-Borthwick

    • Thank you so much for visiting my blog and helping me find an answer. The Quora link you provided was really good!

      Do use Quora? We could collude, up vote each others answers, see if the system can be gamed! Just kidding about the mutual voting. Quora became aware of (maybe even screens for) that sort of behavior awhile ago. I suspect!

  2. […] Another African country has joined Libya in the digital real estate market. The country code top-level domain, abbreviated ccTLD, of Libya is the very popular .ly. […]


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