The link shortening revolution that has taken place the past few years has been interesting for a number of reasons. But one of the most interesting aspects is that we’re all now trained to click on a URL even if we have no idea what it actually is. Sure, you may be visiting TechCrunch.com, but in Twitter’s stream, it has been hidden as http://bit.ly/lkowieofi or the like. Twitter Tweet Button changes that.
The new Tweet Button, which was officially unveiled by Twitter earlier today (and is already up and running on TechCrunch), by default wraps all links in Twitter’s own t.co URL shortener. But this shortening is only for the pop-up tweet box and so Twitter can make sure the URL isn’t a malicious one. When it is sent out to your tweet stream, you’ll now see the actual URL (though abbreviated).
For some examples of what I mean, see the images in this post. As you can see, TechCrunch links are now shown as beta.techcrunch.com and Time links are shown as time.com. As you’ll also notice, gone is the http:// prefix. Twitter is following Google Chrome is getting rid of this when not needed.
Of course, we just implemented our own shortener, tcrn.ch, to work with the new Tweet Button — so now you’ll see that rather than beta.techcrunch.com. But that’s okay because you’ll still know it’s a TechCrunch link (as you have been able to for a while thanks to Bit.ly). But this is really key for sites that don’t have their own custom shorteners — you’ll no longer have to wonder exactly where you’re about to go when you click on a link (assuming that link was sent via the Tweet Button).
Of course, there have been some browser plug-ins and extensions that have de-obfuscated links for some time now. And Bit.ly has been checking to make sure links being shortened we’re malicious for some time now also. But it will still be nice to see some actual URLs in the tweet stream again, so we know where the hell we’re about to go.
Right now, these original links are only shown on twitter.com, but soon partner clients will begin showing true links in the stream as well.