YouTube Gets Its Own Short URLs. Except They're Still Pretty Long.

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Looks like Google is really going full steam ahead with its shortened URLs. Only a week after the search giant launched its own Goo.gl short URLs, its subsidiary YouTube is launching its own short URL service: youtu.be.

In a blog post announcing the new feature, YouTube writes that the short URL will be used exclusively for YouTube videos (which means it isn’t as useful to spammers for misdirection). The post also notes that because all youtu.be shortlinks include the YouTube video ID, developers can use that information to surface thumbnails and track how a video is spreading.

Unfortunately, embedding a video ID has a downside: they’re relatively long. Whereas your typical bit.ly link weighs in at around 20 characters, a youtu.be link comes out to 27 characters, primarily because YouTube IDs are a beefy 11 characters long. That may not sound like much, but those extra 7 characters represent 5% of your maximum tweet length. Hopefully the features that video IDs enable for developers will outweigh that cost.

Any videos shared through YouTube’s autosharing features to Facebook, Twitter, and Google Reader will take advantage of the new short URLs automatically. You can also create the link yourself in this format:

To use youtu.be manually, simply take a URL like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdeioVndUhs and replace the “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=” with “http://youtu.be/” to get: http://youtu.be/FdeioVndUhs Plug that shorter URL into a browser, and you’ll see it redirects to that video.

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