Google today launched its own URL shortening service, aptly named the Google URL Shortener (http://goo.gl/). The service is, for the moment, only available in the updated versions of the Google Toolbar and FeedBurner.
Google says that its service will be more secure than the goodness-knows-how-many URL shortening services that already exist (tinyURL, bit.ly, tr.im, at least 50 others). According to the Official Google Blog, Google's version offers the following advantages.
- Stability: Google's scalable, multi-datacenter infrastructure provides great uptime and a reliable service to our users.
- Security: As we do with web search, shortened URLs are automatically checked to detect sites that may be malicious and warn users when the short URL resolves to such sites.
- Speed: At Google we like fast products and we've worked hard to ensure this service is quick. We'll continue to iterate and improve the speed of Google Url Shortener.
One thing that fascinates me is the need Google has for doing it all itself. Why not partner with one of the already established URL shortening services, make that service meet Google's criteria for security and stability?
That qualm aside, URL security is a big concern for the typical IT department. With so many people using Twitter for at work (and for work purposes), employees are clicking on shortened URLs all-day long. These can easily take them to sites laced with malware. Google certainly has the size and experience to ensure that shortened URLs that link to such sites aren't being proliferated. The question remains whether Google should block users from visiting those sites, or if it should simply warn them that they are about to visit a site rated dangerous. I, personally, am glad it is warning them, though I can see how IT pros would like it if Google offered a site -option.
Likewise, URL shortening services that go out of business create what's known as linkrot. Any blog or e-mail or Tweet that linked to one of its shortened URLs would be hosting bad links, all over the Internet -- that's got to be annoying for a search site like Google. A Google-owned link shortening service solves that problem as well.
This story, "Google Claims its URL Shortening Service is More Secure" was originally published by Network World.