"Which URL shorteners does Facebook accept?"
It has been brought to attention that the link http://bit.ly/12gwNmR redirected to a spam page today, and not to the article as expected. It also seems that Facebook changes their preferences on which URL shortener to use over time without warning, suddenly making other shorteners unusable for sharing articles from this blog.
I have found these preferences by monitoring traffic between my website and Facebook using Wireshark (a network sniffer), and I will list them here:
1) TinyURL: Accepted for level 1 and 2 posts , probably never accepted for level 3 posts.
2) bit.ly: Always accepted . This is because FB has a good relationship with bit.ly, on which they have added a "Share on Facebook" button on their website.
3) ow.ly: Accepted for level 3 posts, never accepted for level 1 and 2 posts .
4) Others: Never accepted . This category does not include TinyURL because of the reasons stated above, but it does include Goo.gl and many other services that can be found in the Wireshark logs, which has been blacklisted by FB some time after May 7th 2012 (when I stopped monitoring).
These preferences are constantly changing without warning, so always check if your preferred URL shortener is still working before sharing an article from my blog on Facebook! It's also possible that these changes are only related to articles from this blog, but I cannot be sure because I have not monitored other websites yet.
These preferences are also not the same for different posts, so never assume that it's TinyURL if it worked once! Okay?
I'm sorry to everyone who could not read the article because of this issue - feel free to comment about which URL shortener you prefer and why. Hopefully Facebook will see this post and fix their buggy system...
Here is a follow-up on which URL shorteners Facebook prefers as of June 19th 2012:
1) bit.ly: Accepted for level 1 and 2 posts , probably never accepted for level 3 posts . Update : It seems that FB has again started preferring TinyURL over bit.ly!
2) ow.ly: Always accepted . This is because FB has a good relationship with bit.ly, on which they have added a "Share on Facebook" button on their website. Update : It seems that Facebook changed the preferences again...
3) tinyurl.com: Accepted for level 1 and 2 posts , probably never accepted for level 3 posts . Update : FB has again started preferring bit.ly over TinyURL!
This time I can also add some more reasoning to this result - I compared the Wireshark output from when ow.ly was preferred and when it wasn't, and found that there was no difference in the number of requests made to ow.ly and to tinyurl.com, which shows that the system does not check for this or use it as a factor in judging popularity. Thus ow.ly (and also bit.ly) must be working because of Facebook's relationships with them (in contrast, TinyURL works because it is popular).
Update : TinyURL has been blacklisted again!
The new preferred URL shortener for level 1 and 2 posts seems to be http://goo.gl/, but it might just be a coincidence that I have seen two articles from reputable news websites recently whose links were shortened using goo.gl instead of bit.ly or ow.ly...
For now I have added a blacklist of all services other than those four to my web server in order to avoid problems when Facebook suddenly changes its preferences again in the future.
It would be nice if people who liked this article would share it on Facebook, so that FB might get more requests from my website and then change their preferences back! Just kidding... <3
And here is a follow-up on which URL shorteners Facebook prefers as of October 9th 2012:
Facebook has changed their system once again - I noticed tinyurl.com was prefered over ow.ly during the last two days, but am not sure of any long term data or conclusions yet, so please tell me below what you think! Thanks for reading and sharing :D
Update: Facebook has changed their system once again and is now preferring http://goo.gl/ over ow.ly!
I also made a list for Google+ of all the URL shorteners that I know, but it's still very new and many services may be missing - add more in the comments below if you can help :D
Note on TinyURL: Since May 7th 2012 when I stopped monitoring it, TinyURL was blacklisted by FB, meaning that links shortened with it would not appear on updates or news feeds. This blacklisting ended only some days ago (after October 9th), so TinyURL has been working until recently and should probably continue working... But the others might not be sure...
Here is an article with a list of alternative URL shorteners (with one or two that I know) - please post more in the comments below :)
Update: TinyURL has been blacklisted again! According to this article , Facebook has added tinyurl.com and bit.ly to its blacklist for level 1 and 2 posts, probably never accepting them for level 3 posts (which means shorter articles would not be shared at all). This claim is also supported by the fact that http://goo.gl/ seems to be preferred over both services as of October 9th 2012, as shown above. The blacklisting went away on December 12th 2012 after TinyURL fixed their system to work properly with FB's requirements again - I'm sorry for anyone who could not read TinyURL shortened URLs during this time.
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