Twitter Begins Testing t.co Shortened Links Today

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Starting today, Twitter will begin testing its link-wrapping feature which will automatically shorten all URL’s 20 characters long or greater into t.co-wrapped links. This test will affect a certain percentage of tweets posted publicly through the service, or sent out via direct message.

The tests are a “canary in the coal mine,” says Twitter – meaning an attempt to work out any issues with the new URL-shortening system prior to its Monday, August 15th launch.

Specifically, Twitter is hoping to determine if there are any user-facing problems that will arise from the system, once operating at scale.

This means you may start seeing links shortened to begin with “t.co” appearing on Twitter over the course of the week. And you may see a link you paste into a tweet automatically shortened for you to use the new URL-wrapping feature, if that link meets the required length.

Twitter has been preparing to launch this system since June 2010. It says that the system will help the company “understand how users engage with the tens of millions of links shared daily on Twitter.” It will also help protect users from malicious links and scams, as the links will be parsed before posting.

Note that this is different than the automatic link shortening feature which went live in June. That simply truncated links for you to end in “…”. This will actually wrap the links using the “t.co” prefix.

More information on how this change affects developers is available here and here.