Twitter has turned on a new feature designed to automatically shorten URLs before they are displayed as links, and has added improved security capabilities which will warn users if they are about to follow malicious links.
Carolyn Penn of the firm's communications team shared the news in a blog post, saying that many Twitter users had asked for the feature.
"Just paste a link of any length into the Tweet box on Twitter.com. After you've composed your Tweet and you hit the 'Tweet' button, we'll shorten the link so that it only takes up 19 characters," she wrote.
The feature uses Twitter's link service at http://t.co and has been designed to better protect against links posted on the site by cyber criminals hoping to lure people into clicking on malicious and phishing links.
"Since we show a shortened version of the original link, people will know which site the link points to," said Penn. "If users click links that are reported as malicious, we direct them to a page that warns them."
The update was branded a "sensible move" by Sophos senior technology consultant Graham Cluley, who welcomed the additional level of scanning for suspect URLs on the site.
Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have been blighted by malicious shortened links in recent times, as scammers have been quick to exploit the greater levels of trust people seem to have on these sites.
The feature is set to be rolled out initially to a small number of users, with the rest to follow.
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