It’s not the best time to be a URL-shortening service right now. Tr.im has been dead-pooled and others are being used once again to help spread spam and malware across Twitter. But one major concern that’s been brought up with Tr.im closing its doors is the possibility that the URLs shortened with its service will no longer be available by next year.
That’s a lot of lost data, and it’s a concern that we as web users have when dealing with startups. We ask, how long will this service be around, and what will happen to my data if this company doesn’t succeed in the long run? Granted, these are questions we haven’t had to ask as readily as during the first dotcom bubble bust, but this does feel like deja vous. With the current developments around real time search, however, I’m beginning to wonder how URL-shortening services and their ongoing issues will affect/be affected by real time search trends.
On the one hand, URL shorteners have made it enormously easier to share links through character-limiting microblogs such as Twitter. With real time search trends beginning to become useful resources to regular and new search engines alike, the potential for a spam link to be spread is increased exponentially. This should be a huge concern for Twitter, as it has established itself as one of the main resources for real time search results through its search API.
On the other hand, URL shorteners that don’t make the cut could affect any archiving we see from Twitter content, should they deadpool and lose all its link data. For the time being, this isn’t a major concern for real time search trends, seeing as archived content isn’t in real time. But I think the overall shift towards real time search results will merely become part of a larger version of search, which will eventually need to access archives from services like Twitter.
As a bookmarking act of sorts, sharing a link through Twitter can be a great way to redirect traffic according to your needs, note web content that’s important to you, and share media across the social web. Finding a better way to arcive and access this data will play to the capacity of social media to become a running version of one’s life story. The archives on link-sharing across the social web is also valuable data to web publishers and advertisers, so the inability to access archived links would be detrimental to the monetization of sites like Twitter.
For the time being, using a more popular URL shortener would be in your best interest as an end user. Tapping into a third party service that lets you bookmark as well as tweet shared web content would be a good way to backup some of the links you’ve shared online, though the activity surrounding these links is where true behavioral analysis would most likely come into play.
So until sites like Twitter find better ways to handle the spam potential behind URL shorteners, and the economies surrounding such platforms finds a level playing field, we’re still left asking a lot of questions and finding ways to cope with the ever-changing rules of the game that defines our current social media experience.