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Embiggen those short urls!

Over the weekend, someone asked me to help reverse some obfuscated Javascript. He'd gotten it through a link on Twitter, from a corporate blog. It was, of course, using a URL shortening service, making it more difficult to easily see where the destination was (a bunch of ad spam).

In this case, it seems likely the poster didn't bother to vet the link before posting--and thus sent out a link to an advertising page. Not very cool, twitter user, not very cool at all!

So, while posters should actually read things before they post them, readers need to protect themselves, too. Here are a couple of ways you can figure out where you're going before you actually go there:

  • TInyurl has the preview service, which will set a cookie (preview=1) . When you click links to tinyurl.com, you'll be taken to an intermediary page which lists the expanded URL.

  • bit.ly has their own Firefox plugin which will show a preview when you mouse-over a bit.ly link.

If you're a Firefox user,  you have a few solutions available to you in the way of add-ons:

  • LongURL Mobile Expander gives you a mouse-over view of the expanded URL (much like bit.ly's own addon), but for multiple services.

  • Long URL Please replaces the short URLs in the page, so you can directly view them. This is pretty handy, but does actually change the page content--which could be problematic.

Of course, URL shortening (and lengthening!) services are a dime-a-dozen (and seem to appear and disappear on a weekly basis), so no solution is going to let you preview all of them, but covering the most popular should go a long way.

What other ways you can see your destination--and does anyone have recommendations for Safari or IE?

nyURL.com - shorten that long URL into a tiny URL

Labels: tinyurl
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