Twitter users who use Twitter.com to manage the bulk of their Twitter activity know just how much of a pain it can be to include long links in a tweet. With only 140 characters to share your thoughts, a long link can be more than obtrusive in a tweet. To help make sharing links on Twitter easier for users without impacting the tweet length limit as much, Twitter has introduced automatic link shortening on Twitter.com
When Twitter users past a link of any length into the tweet box on Twitter.com, a message appears to let you know that the link will be shortened using Twitter’s http://t.co link shortening service. The resulting short URL will only be 19 characters in length, which is comparable to other service like bit.ly, which are 20 characters in length. This process is instant, and also offers Twitter users who are sharing a link additional safety and security. Twitter explains that “if users click links that are reported as malicious, we direct them to a page that warns them.” Unfortunately, Twitter’s URL link shortening service does not offer any analytics, so if you’re curious how many clicks your link is getting, or otherwise want to track the data of your link, you may want to continue using your other favorite third-party link shortening service.
To use Twitter to shorten links, just start typing or paste a long URL into the Tweet box. After you’ve entered the first 13 characters of a URL, a message will appear at the bottom of the Tweet box, letting you know that the link will appear shortened. Twitter points out on its blog that even if you’ve reached the character limit, you can continue to add text to the URL with no consequence. Once your tweet is posted, it will be assigned a t.co link ID, but the link will appear as a shortened version of the original URL, so people who see your tweet will know the site they are going to (unlike other link shortening services.)
Twitter notes on its support site that it is slowly rolling out this feature and it “will initially be available to a small percentage of users. It will eventually available for everyone. You should see it soon.” Will you use Twitter to shorten links when you tweet? Or will you stick with another link shortening service when you share links online? Let us know what you think in the comments.