Social Media

Twitter forces all tweeted links to become t.COs, will its analytics system launch soon?

Twitter forces all tweeted links to become t.COs, will its analytics system launch soon?

In a significant change to the social network’s architecture all links now posted on Twitter are being redirected to its own t.co url shortner before sending users to the actual link address.

Twitter's t.co homepage

The change took place some time after 8pm on Monday (GMT) and completes Twitter’s efforts, which it began last year, to manage all links leaving its network.  Since late last year Twitter has been redirecting all links over 20 characters in length to t.co addresses.  However, links under 20 characters, such as j.mp links were unaffected.

While users will notice more t.co links in their feeds the big change will be for website owners and developers.  Links tweeted via the Twitter website and most clients will be converted to t.co while those entered by url shortening services, such as bit.ly or HootSuite will retain the bit.ly, ow.ly link text but will be changed to t.co in the code.  What this means for users is that when they click a link in Twitter they will be first taken to the t.co page then immediately redirected to the second short link (bit.ly, ow.ly, etc) and then finally to the webpage itself.

Twitter says that its own short URLs are safer for users, as the company automatically checks t.co links for malware and other similar content.  Twitter says;

“Twitter’s link service at http://t.co is used to better protect users from malicious sites that engage in spreading malware, phishing attacks, and other harmful activity.

A link converted by Twitter’s link service is checked against a list of potentially dangerous sites. When there’s a match, users can be warned before they continue.”

However, Twitter also hopes that using t.co links will show website owners how much traffic the ecosystem sends to their sites.  Unlike Facebook or Google+ users are more likely to access Twitter from a number of clients such as Hootsuite, TweetDeck, Seesmic, etc and because of this it has been hard for website owners to see how many visitors Twitter has sent to their sites.  With the now-universal use of t.co links website owners will simply see t.co as the referring site.

But its not all good news for webmasters, Twitter has angered some users who purchased custom short urls has part of their company’s online branding by these moves. Although, as the company says “tracking metrics (like those from bit.ly) will continue working as before” we have seen that retweets and some Twitter clients, including Twitter’s recently purchased TweetDeck, show the t.co link rather than the custom short link.

This is part of Twitter’s wider efforts to take greater control over its ecosystem.  Earlier this week a US court granted the company the trademark for the word “Tweet”, a move that could spell even more bad news for websites and companies offering Twitter clients containing the word, many of which have already been banned from using the word “Twitter” as part of their own names.  Twitter has also removed RSS access to users’ and search Twitter feeds.

The change comes ahead of Twitter’s long mooted analytics system, which is due to release to the public in the coming months.

Social Media
@pdscott

Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).

More in Social Media

Twitter laptop

Twitter’s advice to marketers, “push while the door is open”

Piers Dillon ScottOctober 30, 2013

Facebook warnings everyone should know

Antonie GeertsOctober 29, 2013
sockies - Irish Social Media Awards

All the winners from the 2013 Irish Social Media Awards #sockies13

Piers Dillon ScottMay 30, 2013
Irish Social Media Awards

YouTube and HubSpot to award the best of Ireland’s social media #sockies

Piers Dillon ScottMay 13, 2013
Facebook move fast and break things

German authorities take Facebook to court over Irish privacy protection laws (or lack thereof) & lose

Piers Dillon ScottApril 24, 2013
Facebook broken like

From timeline to inbox – Facebook now lets you ‘Send’ images

Piers Dillon ScottApril 22, 2013
Cans of spam

Report: This year, spammers & hackers will target your social media & smartphone data

Piers Dillon ScottApril 17, 2013
#welovetwitter

Finally, Twitter is now showing users’ images properly

Piers Dillon ScottMarch 28, 2013
Social media iPad icons

Social media hacking: What do you do when your brand gets hijacked

Susie FrancisMarch 24, 2013