In short: You can’t.
Recently, Twitter has started automatically converting all URL links in tweets (i.e. twitter messages) into 20 character “shortened” links. For example, if you send the message: “http://ChristopherPrice.com is awesome!” everyone will actually see something like: “http://t.co/IzKOWFnE is awesome!” Both links will go to the same place, but the shortened one is, in effect, cloaked. (Go ahead, try it.)
Shortened URLs are very handy sometimes, especially within the confines of a 140-character tweet. Additionally, you can convert a super-long, column-wrapping link into something you can email to the team and avoid the concern that Outlook will break the link.
There are times, however, when transparently sharing a URL is not only appropriate, but also important. Like when one is trying to develop a website’s brand. Or maybe an author believes (correctly, IMO) that fully disclosing a real link will provide some additional level of trust with readers. After all, in many cases, you really have no idea where a shortened URL is going to send you. On some devices, merely visiting a “bad” website can be harmful. That won’t happen too many times before increasingly suspicious people stop clicking on shortened links altogether.
Why is Twitter doing this?
Twitter’s link service at http://t.co is used to better protect users from malicious sites that engage in spreading malware, phishing attacks, and other harmful activity.
A link converted by Twitter’s link service is checked against a list of potentially dangerous sites. When there’s a match, users can be warned before they continue:
That seems fine except Twitter states it won’t shorten URLs from other URL-shortening services, such as my preferred service, bit.ly. I would guess that bit.ly and other legitimate URL shortening services screen their converted links too. Yet, it may be possible for someone to to use a legitimate service to create thousands or millions of “disposable” links each of which will only work a time or two until the service catches on. This is just a different spin on current spammer techniques. For that matter, why not just create a URL shortening “service” for the purpose? Coincidentally, the only lame workaround I found uses a sort of “dummy” shortener to get around the issue, for twitterfeed.com users anyway:
insty.info now has a non-shortening solution for twitterfeed. Just use the custom shortener option and enter
in the custom endpoint box. It will return your url untouched.
Quora contributor Jaison De Montalegre laments that even the “secret settings menu” for Twitter developers offers no way around this “t.co madness”. If you are a big enough geek to care, he shares the magic key. From the terminal, enter:
write com.twitter.twitter-mac DebugMode -bool true
Seriously, I’m not likely to go to these lengths to try to work around this issue and I don’t know many others who would either. (Nate might.) Let’s hope someone comes up with a resonable solution before the bad guys spoil the fun for all of us. Again.
Do you know a way to get by this Twitter “feature”? Please post it in the comments! In any case, if you like this article, please share it with your favorite social network, or just hit the Anonymous Green Thumb of Karma below. (It will make both of us feel good. Try it!)