URL shortener services, such as bit.ly and tinyURL, are free but do not offer the authenticity of a custom, branded URL shortener (not to mention making your click data public to your competitors). We encourage brands to use branded URL shorteners to gain credibility and authenticate their links.
One of the biggest downsides to using a free service to shorten a URL is that spammers often use these services to hide links that could be dangerous to your computer or try to steal your information.
Facebook is making strides to create a safe environment online. Last week they broke bit.ly links and marked them as abusive. Facebook posted a blog entry addressing the issue in June 2010. While they have since been restored, to post something with a bit.ly link, users will now see a window with a CAPTCHA authenticator to ensure the link is being posted by a person and not a spammer or robot.
These new safety precautions makes me wonder if it is a sign of things to come for bit.ly and other consumer-based shorteners on Facebook and other social media platforms.
The best way to let your fans, followers and friends know your link is trusted and will not lead them astray is to use a branded URL. The Vitrue Platform offers solutions to create unique, trusted, branded URLs.