Trying to Save the Web's Shortcuts

The Internet Archive and more than 20 Web companies are banding together to preserve the historical records of the abbreviated Internet addresses that are passed around on services such as Twitter.

Services such as Bit.ly and TinyURL allow consumers to convert a lengthy Web address into a miniaturized one. They have soared in popularity in recent years with the advent of Twitter, which limits users to 140 characters per post. Shortened links are also used in emails, text messages and updates on social-networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.

Bit.ly, for example, says consumers use its site to shorten 40 million Web addresses a day. However, since most link-shortening services are unprofitable start-ups, archivists and Internet users worry that if one goes under, its links would stop directing users to the correct, longer Web address.

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