Welcome to the wonderful world of URL shorteners, where internet links hide behind abridged monikers to sheath their unwieldy length. You may have seen them fluttering about on the Internet; they’re currently infesting Twitter feeds, blog posts, Facebook status updates, and yes, even in print publications. Long winded web addresses, with tracking codes and web stats, have become so passé. Linking to one will make you seem like a Jurassic entity, which is why URL shorteners have shot up in popularity. The first of these services, TinyURL began rapidly proliferating when social networking and blogging stormed the web scene. Users everywhere needed a simple way to share their favorite links and ensure that their web friends and followers had an accessible way to navigate their content. With the advent of microblogging sites where every character counts, more of these services have emerged to become an essential part of internet life.
We take a look five popular URL shorteners, evaluate the merits of each, and ponder on the future of this link shrinking technology.
Twitter announced at the Future of Web Apps conference in London that they will be implementing a Twitter Labs feature. A seemingly familiar idea, the Twitter Lab will be a formal outlet for Twitter approved plug-ins that are submitted by developers using the API. They expect it to launch “soon” but were skimpy on the details.
Twitter is also testing out a new “Lists” feature that will allow users to compile lists of their favorite tweeters. Users can create their own buckets of Twitter accounts and share them (or keep them private). The lists are linked from the users profile and can be subscribed to by friends. Developer information will be released in the next few days as the feature is rolled out.
Do you find your Twitter account lacking cool, new, functionality? Are you looking forward to organizing your Twitter friends? Does anyone still use Twitter?
The social web can be harsh on the socially feckless. It is essential that those with a sizable internet audience - even if an unintended, uninvited one - possess a reasonable amount of savoir-faire. The Washington Post will not be assessing its editorial staff’s innate social skills, though.
“When using these networks, nothing we do must call into question the impartiality of our news judgment. We never abandon the guidelines that govern the separation of news from opinion, the importance of fact and objectivity, the appropriate use of language and tone, and other hallmarks of our brand of journalism,” Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli wrote in a staff note.
The paper has advised journalists against “tweeting or posting anything – including photographs or video – that could be perceived as reflecting political racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favoritism that could be used to tarnish our journalistic credibility.”
A Twitter phishing scam tore across the micro-blogging site over the past few days. It all started with direct messages sent to Twitter accounts saying “rofl this you on here? http://videos.twitter.secure-logins01.com.” The link leads to seemingly innocuous Twitter login page. However, to the keen observer of the URL you can see that it is obviously not an official Twitter site.
Once on the fake login page, if you entered credentials you were taken to a “Too many tweets page” explaining that Twitter is having technical trouble (is it that hard to believe?).
A day or two later, if you logged into your Twitter account you will have found hundreds of get-rich-quick, earn-money-at-home spam messages sent on your behalf.
If you are a victim, you had best change your credentials to your Twitter account and any other sites using similar login information. If you are a casual onlooker, try not to point and laugh.
Further, you can also setup the connection to work both ways and synchronize tweets into your MySpace activity stream. The synchronized tweets are advertised as “from MySpace” and offer a link back to your MySpace profile.
MySpace is jumping on the bandwagon after AIM began offering similar functionality through its Lifestream service earlier this month. The canoodling is likely an attempt, by all parties involved, to steal market share from social networking giant Facebook.
If you’re a social networking news junky, you’ve likely been getting a kick out the ongoing battle between Facebook and Twitter. The two competing companies have been scrapping away for months now, but Facebook’s vice president of growth Chamath Palihapitiya is ready to call the war in favor Facebook claiming, “Twitter is in the rear-view mirror”. “To focus on a company with 40 million users that is not growing is not a good idea,” he said, citing Hitwise market share data as evidence of Twitter’s slowdown.
Based on the interview it appears Facebook still has a lot of respect for what Twitter has accomplished (imitation is the highest form of flattery after all), but clearly feels Google is the bigger competitor going forward. “Our task it to make sure we innovate and to make sure there’s no new upstart experience that could take users away.” If going after Google sounds like an unrealistic target, it’s worth noting that Facebook currently has over 300 million registered users, followed up by Yahoo at 600 million, and Google at a whopping 900 million.
Palihapitiya claims the future of Facebook lies in redefining the way people surf the web. He claims rather than simply turning to Google to find content, users will consume information largely based upon recommendations from friends. Can you see yourself setting Facebook to your homepage?
Twitter is on the brink of sealing the deal for yet another round of funding, which will value the microblogging site at around $1 billion, TechCrunch reported on Wednesday.
While not yet finalized, the company is expected to raise around $50 million, with most of it coming from New York-based Insight Venture Partners. All but a done deal, Chief Executive Evan Williams feels confident enough it will go through that he's announced the latest round of funding to employees.
Twitter's website recorded 44.5 million visitors in June, representing a 15-fold year-over-year increase, according to data from comScore.
"When something like Twitter or Facebook becomes a cultural phenomena, it's much more than the sum of the parts. It's really tapping into a cultural shift," said Salil Deshpande, a general partner at venture firm Bay Partners. "As the network effect increases, the value increases."
Making like a good social network and copying its competitors more successful aspects, Facebook has taken the liberty of using the @ symbol to tag friends in posts and status updates, a method that was popularized by Twitter.
Currently, while on Twitter you can use the @ symbol to refer to, or directly respond to a friend (ex: Hanging out with the coolest guy ever, @asalisbury). And, exactly as it’s done on Twitter, Facebook will reportedly auto-generate names with you enter part of a friend’s name. Don’t worry though, if the status update is too embarrassing you will be able to untag yourself.
The new feature is available now, so feel free to go give it a whirl.
Just how popular is Twitter? By the end of the year, some 18 million U.S. adults will access the microblogging service on any platform every month. That's more than the population of Switzerland, Singapore, and Norway combined, and also a 200 percent increase over 2008 stats. By 2010, that number's expected to jump to 26 million, representing another 44 percent increase.
The numbers come courtesy of eMarketer, who notes that the final tally might be even higher due to users accessing Twitter not just through the service's website, but via text messages, mobile apps, and various desktop applications as well.
"Since our earlier Twitter user estimates were published in April of 2009, the number of Twitter.com visitors has risen sharply," said eMarketer senior analyst Paul Verna. "In addition, research data shows healthy -- and growing -- percentages of U.S. Internet users adopting the popular microblogging platform. These two factors compelled us to upwardly revise our previous forecast.".
On the flip side, eMarketer says "large numbers" of users end up abandoning the service after a short stint, and yet others only Tweet their latest happenings on an infrequent basis.
Surprised by Twitter's explosive growth? Hit the jump and sound off. And if you want follow us on Twitter, you can do so here:
For many, TweetDeck is the desktop app of choice when tweeting and keeping track of other’s updates. And, with the latest version about to release, the Adobe AIR program will add some support for everyone’s favorite forgotten social network, MySpace.
The new version will also come with stronger bit.ly integration, automatic and instant conversion of long links into shorter ones as you type them, the ability to drag photos directly into TweetDeck and post them to Facebook, and even the capacity to click a hashtag and then open up a new column showing what folks are saying.