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A Tangled Web of Shortened Links


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Link-shortening services may be slowing down parts of the Internet, according to the Foundation for Research and Technology and Microsoft Research.

The researchers analyzed millions of shortened links involving two shortening services--bit.ly and ow.ly--and found that a small number of shortened links accounts for most of the traffic. The analysis also found that shortening services are mainly used in the United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

More than 10 percent of all bit.ly traffic includes links to YouTube, and Twitter says about 25 percent of tweets contain a URL. The researchers found that shortening services introduce a latency of 50 percent to 600 percent, a delay of less than half a second that is barely perceptible to most end users. However, usage could continue to grow, and the result could be a latency that is perceptible by users and an overall degradation of performance.

"Alternative shortening architectures for eliminating such overheads may be required in the future," the researchers say.

From Technology Review
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