Link shorteners like bit.ly are some of the most often used tools in the Twitter ecosystem. While Twitter itself has been using it’s own t.co URL shortener for a while, it was never integrated into the Twitter.com web interface. That’s changing today. Twitter now automatically shortens links for URLs and will also ensure that links don’t point to sites that are reported to be malicious.

This feature is starting to roll out to “a small percentage of users” today, so don’t worry if you don’t see it yet. According to Twitter, it will eventually be available for everyone.

image

If you’re currently using your own third-party URL shortener, it will continue to work just fine. Given that Twitter doesn’t offer any analytics services around t.co links, chances are that more advanced users will stick with bit.ly and its competitors for the time being.

Twitter, of course, has become rather infamous for replicating features that its developer ecosystem developed without the company’s help. It looks like third-party URL shorteners could be the next group of apps that Twitter will slowly replace with its own services.

Here is Twitter’s step-by-step guide for how this new feature will work:[list]

  1. Start typing or paste a long URL into the Tweet box.
  2. After you’ve entered the first 13 characters of a URL, a message will appear at the bottom of the Tweet box, letting you know that the link will appear shortened. (Fig. 1)
  3. Notice that even if you’ve reached the character limit, you can continue to add text to the URL with no consequence.
  4. Once the Tweet is posted, it will be assigned a t.co link ID, but the link will appear as a shortened version of the original URL, so people who see your Tweet will know the site they are going to (Fig. 2, above). Yep! It’s now that easy.[/list]