Twitter rolling out automatic link shortening
Twitter is continuing to build into its service features popularized by third parties -- the latest example being link shortening, which the social network is now rolling out for users automatically.
"We've been working on a bunch of features to make Twitter easier to use," Carolyn Penner, a Twitter spokeswoman, wrote on the micro-blogging service's blog Tuesday. "Today, we're releasing something that many of you have been asking for -- automatic link shortening on Twitter.com."
Once fully implemented, Twitter.com will shorten a link "of any length" written into the "tweet box" online down to 19 characters once the tweet is sent, Penner said.
"Sharing links on Twitter.com is now simple and instant," Penner wrote. "Plus, since we show a shortened version of the original link, people will know which site the link points to. This service also increases security. If users click links that are reported as malicious, we direct them to a page that warns them."
Again, all features by outside services will remain available, but Twitter's new built-in link shortening won't provide analytics data on its shortened links -- which many outside link-trimming services offer and which can be a valuable tool for business professionals who want to see just how many times their links are getting clicks.
If a user wants such analytics, "you can continue to use your favorite third-party link-shortening services," Penner said.
The move to do link shortening itself follows Twitter offering its own built-in photo sharing service, buying the "power user" app TweetDeck and also putting a general stop to new apps that replicate the official Twitter app, rather provide some new, differentiating function.
On Monday, Apple announced that Twitter would be integrated within iOS 5 to allow people to tweet content without ever having to open an actual Twitter app. It's one more move that could help the social network grow its user base and possibly also cannibalize a few third-party Twitter-related apps that facilitate sharing photos, links, maps and other items along the way.
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles