Why URL shorteners cause Twitter problems


A few months back, we wrote an article addressing a problem which could result in the end of Twitter. Ok, so that might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but even so, the limited lifespan of URL shorteners is certainly a problem.

This week, there has been more talk about problems which may affect Twitter and the various URL shorteners, which have really come to the forefront of the web world, as Twitter has become more widely used.

You may have come across services such as Bit.ly, Ow.ly and Ad.ly - all of which clearly make use of the '.ly' domain type. Even with a limited knowledge of domain names, it may strike you that these sites don't operate using UK (.co.uk) or US (.com) based domains.

Do we have a right to .ly domains?

In fact, the '.ly' domains were created for use in Libya. And now, the Libyan Government is in the process of seizing certain domains which it feels are in violation of Libyan Islamic/Sharia Law.

Which domains are Libya seizing?

According to Ben Metcalfe, former owner of vb.ly, the Libyan Government took hold of his domain because of the content of his website. He now advises that:

if .ly domains are deemed to be in violation of NIC.ly regulation, they are being deregistered and removed without warning .ly domains are being deregistered and removed due to reasons that do not correspond to the regulations defined in the official NIC.ly regulations NIC.ly seems to want to extend their reach beyond the domain itself and regulate the content of websites that use a .ly domain. The concept amounts to censorship and makes .ly domains untenable to be used for user-generated content or url shorteners Libyan Islamic/Sharia Lay is being used to consider the validity of domains, which is unclear and obscure in terms of being able to know what is allowed and what isn't NIC.ly have suddenly decided that those .ly domains with fewer than 4 letters, should only be available to local Libyans, meaning some premium domains could be reclaimed and thrown back into the local-only pot of domains

Obviously, each of these points highlight a potential problem which may spell trouble for various URL shorteners, such as Bit.ly, and inadvertently, Twitter. If more Governments go down the same track, a whole host of URL shorteners could be reclaimed and Twitter users would be left to consider how they incorporate as much information into a single tweet without the use of a shortened web address.

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