In the beginning, people flocked to Twitter because of its one simple but great feature: to publish each thought or message in 140 characters. In some instances that feature proved to be a constraint, but that’s really where creativity comes into play. While sharing links, long URL’s[1. URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator, which is usually the permanent link you find in your browser’s address bar when browsing the web.] posed even more challenges. That’s when URL shorteners came into being, Tinyurl was one of the first (if not the first) of its kind.
Then on June 2011, Twitter rolled out its very own (and) automatic link shortening feature/service — t.co. The “root” domain name itself is limited to only 4 characters (including the dot) so it sure could produce shorter links. In its blog post, Twitter promised links as short as 19 total characters (including the ‘http://‘ prefix).
The good thing about t.co is that link shortening is automatic. There’s no need anymore to go to the website of the URL shortening service, convert the link to its shortened form and pasting the same to Twitter. Instead, just paste any URL, regardless of length, to your Twitter post, and that will only eventually cost you 19 or 20 characters from expressing the complete message.
However, on the other hand, the problem with t.co is that link shortening is automatic. Any link shorter than 19 characters will actually be expanded to a 19 or 20 character link.
Such is the case when Twitter automatically converted the link to my homepage http://deuts.net –which is comprised of only 16 characters– the resulting link http://t.co/tfIJuXIX is actually 4 characters longer.
Twitter should stop referring to t.co as its link shortening service. Instead, it’s their automatic link shortening/expanding service, or simply: automatic link converting service.