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6/9/2010
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Twitter To Shorten URLs, Aims To Boost Security

One goal is to remove the obscurity often associated with long URL strings and clearly show where the address will lead a user.

In an effort to improve security and generate more information about shared links, Twitter Wednesday unveiled details about a feature that wraps and shortens user-posted links.

The t.co service, expected to roll out this summer, will automatically shorten and scan links posted to Twitter, according to a company blog post by Sean Garrett, vice president of communications at Twitter.

One goal is to remove the obscurity often associated with long URL strings and clearly show where the address will lead a user. The move also will enable Twitter to track all links shared through the site, Garrett said.

"In addition to a better user experience and increased safety, routing links through this service will eventually contribute to the metrics behind our Promoted Tweets platform and provide an important quality signal for our Resonance algorithm -- the way we determine if a Tweet is relevant and interesting to users," he wrote. "We are also looking to provide services that make use of this data, an example would be analytics within our eventual commercial accounts service."

Initially, Twitter is rolling out wrapped links to a small number of accounts such as @TwitterAPI, @rsarver, and @raffi to help developers test their code. Ultimately, however, all links on Twitter will be wrapped, said Garrett.

Currently, Twitter is testing the link service available in Direct Messages to links shared through Tweets with a few employee accounts. The goal is to allow users to share shortened links from the Tweet box on Twitter, he said.

Twitter has been working on this capability for several months. On March 9, the company began using twt.tl to protect direct messages and email notifications from phishing scams. And in April, during a Q&A session at Chirp, Twitter CEO Evan Williams confirmed the company would offer a link-abbreviator.

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