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How to spot and unshorten any shortened URL

Are you aware of how many shortened URLs you click every day, and how vulnerable you are? This free tool adds transparency to the web. Genius!

You are vulnerable

In the social media world, shortening links is the norm, especially on sites like Twitter where characters are limited. Using websites that shorten URLS (like bitly), users are able to take a full link to a video or article, condense it substantially and include it along with their own comments and still be well within their allotted 140 characters. When you see a link that contains bitly, goo.gl, t.co, or tinyURL, those are the most notable URL shorteners and you cannot see where they lead to.

The troublesome thing about shortening links is that the original URL, in which viewers could read the website name and see identifying information about the content, has now been shortened to a line of unintelligible gibberish. Because the website domain is unknown, users who click on these links are more susceptible to viruses. Luckily, users can visit sites like unshortenit.com to unshorten the links and preview just where that click is about to take them.

How it works

If a friend or colleague posts or tweets a link, simply copy and paste the link into unshortenit’s entry portal and click the button titled “unshorten.it!” After clicking the button, the website shows the title and description tags of the web page, a screenshot of the website and the site’s safety ratings.

Hackers are so successful in social media attacks because it is a medium that evokes a sense of camaraderie; users often receive messages from a friend with a link and a funny tagline and feel obligated to click on it and take part in the fun. This action is one that hackers count on and are highly successful because of it. Unshortenit is beneficial because it answers the question to click or not to click by giving users a preview of what’s to come before they make a costly decision.

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The takeaway

Unshortenit is valuable to business owners because it protects their computers, network and social media accounts. The website allows business owners and everyday users to responsibly take part in the social media experience without subjecting their business to malicious attacks. While shortened links help users share what they want as succinctly as possible, it is best to unshorten any shortened links that are sent to you and confirm their true origin.

Destiny Bennett is a journalist who has earned double communications' degrees in Journalism and Public Relations, as well as a certification in Business from The University of Texas at Austin. She has written stories for AustinWoman Magazine as well as various University of Texas publications and enjoys the art of telling a story. Her interests include finance, technology, social media...and watching HGTV religiously.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. RianVisser

    September 2, 2012 at 2:52 am

    Thanks. Another great service is decryptlinks.com. They offer additional support to unshorten adfly and linkbucks links as well.

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