Twitter launches its own URL shortener

Posted by Mark Raby

Twitter has finally solved one of its biggest problems.

The micro-blogging site will now automatically shorten extensively long Web addresses, freeing up room for users who already have to mind the site's 140-characters-per-post limit.

Until now, users who wanted the extra message space after posting a long URL had to go to an external URL-shortening website, like bit.ly, before posting their Twitter message.

With the new feature, though, "You no longer have to worry about fitting a long link into the 140 character limit," Twitter noted in a message on its website.

"After you've composed your Tweet and you hit the 'Tweet' button, we'll shorten the link so that it only takes up 19 characters."

This means that while you're actually writing a Tweet, it can exceed 140 characters, so long as the excess characters are the result of a long URL. Twitter will automatically realize you're putting in a cumbersome Web address and temporarily adjusts your character limit in real-time as you're composing your message. When the final message goes live, it'll still fall under the 140 limit.

The final URL displayed will also be able to show the core domain that's being linked, making it more safe and secure than third-party link shorteners, which mask the identity of the original URL.

The news is a big blow to those external link shortening sites, although bit.ly, for example, manages to shrink URLs to just 13 characters as opposed to 19, so there is still a small marginal value to third-party services.

Nevertheless, for the millions of people who have to constantly go back and forth between bit.ly and Twitter every day, this news will no doubt come as a very welcome Twitter addition.