TwitterTwitter announced, by e-mail to every user, that they are going to make their URL shortener (“wrapper”) mandatory on Twitter, and this will be applied to every URL posted, effectively eliminating the need (and, presumably, the functionality) of every other URL shortener in existence.

Here are 5 reasons why this is a bad policy:

  1. It will put the nail in the coffin for competing shorteners, like bit.ly (which was just starting to look like it had a viable business model). If they go out of business, every Twitter user could be put in the position of having everything they ever tweeted with a bit.ly link become instantly dead.
  2. Twitter vaguely suggested they may offer some analytics tools for shortened links. Fine. Great. But what if I don’t like your analytics? Can I use the other guy who is offering to do better analytics? No.
  3. While not the most unstable country in the world (arguably, Libya may be more so), relying on the goodwill of Colombia for every link on your network is not something I’d be inclined to do.
  4. Shorteners like bit.ly allow people to post to a number of networks, and track link origins, thus aggregating all the activity into one place. Twitter will force people to check two places for analytics, assuming the whole industry is viable at all without allowing their links to be posted on Twitter.
  5. It’s another slap in the face to the developer community. Companies worked within Twitter’s rules to develop some of these great products, like bit.ly and ow.ly. And, in one swoop, Twitter puts them out of business for no apparent reason. This will hurt future development, as it will discourage others to develop add-ons for Twitter for fear of similar treatment. This comes on the heals of the official Twitter iPhone app, which instantly made all the other apps (many of which were far superior, in my opinion) at a serious disadvantage.

Why doesn’t Twitter work with the few viable URL shorteners that are out there, and allow them to implement into Twitter if they meet certain pre-determined criteria?

This would allow Twitter to universally enable features like previewing links, checking for malware, etc., without forcing users to use one style of analytics, and will also allow companies to continue to brand their shortened URLs (like bitly.pro allows you to do).

  • http://twitter.com/donpower Don Power

    What a drag – having to create a short link in Twitter then copy and paste it in Hootsuite to send to multiple networks. Can’t believe how tedious this is going to be.nnThanks for the heads up Paul – I haven’t seen anything from Twitter yet…nn- Don

  • Asa Jaski

    I thought single-letter domains are reserved, how did they got t.co?

    • http://www.paulholmes.ca/ Paul Holmes

      The policy varies from domain registration to domain registry. In fact, .BIZ just auctioned off all their single letter domains recently.