Several businesses have sprung forth thanks to Twitter's 140-character limit on status updates, or tweets. If you wanted to link to a post on DailyFinance, for instance, the URL might be 80 to 90 characters -- more than half of the total allowed.
URL shorteners such as Bit.ly, TinyURL and is.gd offered an opportunity to save characters for the good stuff (Twitter users' description and commentary about the link). Many of these also offered click tracking and other statistics.
In a Twitter Application Programmer Interface list email Tuesday afternoon, Twitter engineer Raffi Krikorian announced that this would all change over the next few months. While the Twitterer will only see that his character limit is increased when tweeting with links -- he will have 140 characters after the URL is shortened, so Twitter will accept tweets much longer than 140 characters -- the change seems to have been designed to protect users from spam and malicious links.
Twitter will route links through a t.co URL, display the link as the user submitted it, and then have the ability to disable links that turn out to be malicious. In practice, this will reduce the effectiveness of phishing scams. It's something Twitter has already been using in direct messages -- that is, private messages between Twitter users -- and will decrease the utility of URL shortening services.
While it seems that this would put URL shorteners out of business, as popular Twitter users speculated, it's important to note that most of these used a Bit.ly link to the news; and, in fact, Krikorian's email began with a Bit.ly link, further evidence that Twitter has "annointed Bit.ly the market winner."
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