Twitter announced Monday that all links submitted through Twitter will automatically be wrapped with Twitter’s T.CO link wrapper. Here is the statement from Twitter’s development page.
‘Current state of t.co
As of October 10, 2011 the t.co URL wrapper automatically wraps all links submitted to Twitter, regardless of length. This includes so-called URLs without protocols.’
The very interesting point from this statement is the “regardless of length”. That means that even links that have been shortened through other services like bit.ly and x.co will be wrapped with the T.CO wrapper. So you can continue to shorten your links with other link shortening services for tracking purposes, but for the most part it doesn’t matter, because Twitter is takin’ over. The screen shot below highlights what exactly I’m talking about.
Originally Twitter’s link shortening service would not touch those links that were already 13 characters or less. But by taking over all links, Twitter says that it hopes to “help it protect users from malicious content while offering useful insights on engagement.” According to Twitter’s help page, “A link converted by Twitter’s link service is checked against a list of potentially dangerous sites. When there’s a match, users can be warned before they continue.” Users will be warned with the following warning.
Twitter might try to paint the picture that they’re just doing everybody a big favor, but I’m sure some of it has to do with Twitter wanting to push some of those companies that rely on Twitter to succeed out of the picture, especially if Twitter can provide the service themselves. Twitter did this same thing recently by launching it’s own photo sharing service to compete with similar companies like TwitPic.
I am interested in hearing what people will have to say about this once they find out it’s happening. Will they be angry that Twitter is overriding their choice of link shortening service or will people just not care? One of the things I have always thought made Twitter so successful are the hundreds of services out there designed to make someone’s Twitter experience better, but not run by Twitter themselves. People like to have their own identity online and like having choices. People like finding a service that works for them and even if it’s not run by Twitter, it still makes Twitter more powerful to that user. Twitter and those services have an unwritten partnership that help them both succeed. If Twitter starts pushing these companies and services out, they might start alienating their users as well.