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URL Shortening

Definition - What does URL Shortening mean?

URL shortening is a technique in which a shortened URL or IP address is used to direct to the same page as the longer address. URL shortening uses an HTTP redirect technique, which facilitates the multiple URL availability for specific Web pages.

URL shortening is used in many situations, including:

  • Posting messages that must accommodate character limits, such as Twitter or SMS
  • Storing, reading, copying, or listing numerous URLs
  • Engaging potential customers of products and services
  • Engaging users for fun or pranks

URL shortening is also known as URL redirecting.

Techopedia explains URL Shortening

In 2002, TinyURL, the first URL shortening service was created, and was followed by more than 100 other similar websites. In August 2009, some of these services discontinued for many reasons, including lack of a generating mechanism (new unique keys), lack of potential market/user interest, site maintenance costs, and Twitter's default bit.ly shortener. In late 2009, NanoURL and Google announced new URL shortening services.

For example, a shortened version of this term's URL might look like this: http://bit.ly/pQ3dPx. However, if a user clicks this link, he or she will be redirected to this page on Techopedia.

URL shortening services often face the following issues:

  • International legal restrictions, such as government URL blocks
  • Linkrot, where Internet and shortening service providers fail for various reasons
  • Privacy concerns
  • Additional required yet complex layers to view original URLs associated with shortened versions
  • Spyware

Due to security, not all URL schemes support URL shortening, like those including data and JavaScript.

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