There has been a disturbing trend on Twitter lately that has been making Twitter very frustrating to use: frame-based URL shortening tools.
Because Twitter posts (or "tweets") are limited to 140 characters, many URL shortening services have sprung up to make long URLs fit in 140-character Twitter posts.
For example, this long URL:
That prevents the URL from taking up too much of Twitter's 140-character limit.
The problem with some of the new URL shortening tools is that they don't cleanly redirect to the destination page. They redirect to a frameset on their own domain that serves ads.
For example, a URL shortened on ow.ly (Hootsuite) might go from:
When you visit the shortened URL (http://ow.ly/dIz) you don't get a full redirect to the target page. You get something like this:
It looks like you made it to the BBC article, but you're not really there:
Here's what happens once you try to navigate the target site from within the frame. I've clicked the BBC page to navigate away from the article that I was originally redirected to:
If you copy the URL to send to a friend while you're on the Middle East page (the second page), it will take them to the Germany page (the first page). You've lost control of your address bar because of the HTML frameset.
My apologies to ow.ly (Hootsuite) and Adjix.com, but these frame-based URL redirection services are as frustrating to encounter as popups and pop-unders. In my opinion it's making Twitter frustrating to use, and it will only get worse if these tools are adopted by more people.
What do you think?
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