Twitter started “wrapping” all links in tweets through it’s own service some time ago, but the service has had problems several times.
Twitter does try to display the actual link in many tweets, but when you click it still will try to take you to a shortened t.co link before actually resolving to the actual website URL.
But notably, in early October, Twitter’s t.co system failed worldwide for nearly an hour.
What Broke Twitter’s System In October?
An employee at the company that manages the t.co domain for Twitter accidentally turned it off!
Yes, it’s a little more complicated than that, but not much. It was human error.
A spokesman said they “inadvertently placed the t.co domain on hold.” While “hold” doesn’t sound too bad, Internet standard RFC 5731 specifies that connectivity “information MUST NOT be published,” when this kind of hold happens…meaning the domain becomes unreachable.
The company responsible is called .CO Internet, and they didn’t admit to causing the problem for awhile, causing a lot of speculation!
They said they were investigating a complaint about hackers creating phishing links when someone accidentally changed the setting, and for at least a half hour, no one at the company realized that they had taken down Twitter links worldwide!
►The Trick For Reading Links When Twitter Breaks Them
If you can read the actual URL of the link in a tweet (in other words, it’s not displayed as a t.co, and it doesn’t include “…” in the link) you can copy and paste the URL into your browser to go to the link indicated.
►The Trick for Creating Links When Twitter Breaks Them
The bad news is that you can’t make clickable links work in your tweets when t.co is having problems. The good news is that (for now) you can put links into tweets that do NOT get shortened by t.co.
The trick is to replace the “.” in your URL with . —here’s an example. Copy:
into a tweet and then edit it to become
…and it will still look like http://www.google.com when you send the tweet! But you’ll need to say something like
paste this link: google.com …into your browser
…because it won’t be a clickable link. But, it also won’t be a BROKEN link! Notice that I removed the http://www. part: It’s not needed, and it saves you 11 characters
Here’s another example. http://bit.ly/ceXVFz would become bit.ly/ceXVFz and display as bit.ly/ceXVFz
When Should You Do This?
If there is a report that Twitter’s t.co service is not working properly, and you still need to get a link out to people NOW, use this trick.
But if you can wait, you should. Most people are not interested in copying and pasting a link to see where it takes them, and some may be suspicious, especially if you are using a shortened link. You’ll get a much better response if you can wait until Twitter is working again, and will automatically make your link clickable by turning it into a hyperlink.
Why This Works
. is the “HTML entity equivalent” of the lowly period (“.”) and so your browser simply displays it as a period. But Twitter, when reading your tweet to look for links to shorten, ignores some HTML entity equivalents (for now) and so leaves your link untouched and unshortened.