Techy

Twitter Lengthening Short Links

I just tried to write a tweet via HootSuite and got an error message about not being able to post to Twitter.

HootSuite showed me being 3 characters under the 140 character limit so I wasn’t sure what the problem was.

However, when I copied and pasted the message to the Twitter website, it showed me being 1 character over!

I assumed this was the cause of the error with HootSuite and presumed it was an issue with the way that HootSuite does the character count vs Twitter.

I obviously needed to shorten the tweet to post it, so I edited it. I decided to remove the .com from a web address: 500px.com. Once I did that, I noticed I had 14 characters left…?

Wait, I was one character over (-1), I just removed 4 characters, and now I’m at +14, a difference of 15 characters – how did that happen?

I reckon this is down to the nice little message at the bottom saying ‘links will appear shortened’. I think Twitter has started using its own link shortening system and is automatically shortening all links posted through it.

I appreciate that Twitter wants to shorten long links for people automatically – that could be useful, but lengthening short links is ridiculous, especially by as much as 15 characters or more!

6 thoughts on “Twitter Lengthening Short Links

  1. I think the bug must be somewhere else, because the t.co links look shorter than your whole fergysnaps.500px.com. It is true though, if I post a really short link, twitter will lengthen it I believe by replacing it with a t.co link.

    Sadly, it’s not about convenience for users, they now enforce it for all links, it’s about tracking what users are clicking, and ultimately, about control… 🙁

      1. A recent example of a “shortented” link from twitter is “t.co/G8J8J3Qu”, 13 characters, your link “fergysnaps.500px.com” is 20 characters. If the link was just “500px.com” that’s only 9 characters so it would be lengthened to 13 by twitter, but I can’t see how a 20 char link would be lengthened. Or am I missing something?

        1. I’m not exactly sure what Twitter was doing, the point of the post was to highlight that they’re doing something!

          If you look at the screenshots above, the first Twitter screenshot (ignore HootSuite one) contains the text 500px.com (towards the start of the message) and is 1 character over, the second Twitter screenshot shows the exact same text, without the “.com” and it’s 14 characters under limit.

          Something is obviously happening here around adding the .com to the text and therefore inferring it’s a web address.

        2. In your example above, you forgot the http:// which makes the numbers add up.

          500px.com is 9 characters, http://t.co/G8J8J3Qu is 20 characters, a difference of 11 characters.

          The difference in my example was 15 characters but I added 4 characters – the “.com”. Subtract them, and it’s lengthening 9 characters of text into a 20 character link.

          Therefore any link less than 20 characters will have characters removed, and any text you enter which looks like it could be a link will take up 20 characters.

          1. Ok, you’re absolutely right, I didn’t notice the 500px.com mention at the beginning of your tweet. It looks like twitter turns any web address into a link, and therefore adds “http://” which is 7 characters. Gotcha, my bad.

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