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.
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
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
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.
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.