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Google Is Shutting Down Its Goo.gl URL Shortening Service (engadget.com) 154

Google is replacing its URL shortener service, goo.gl, with Firebase Dynamic Links (FDL) as of April 13th. These new smart URLs will let you send people to any location within iOS, Android or web apps. Engadget reports: You won't be able to create new goo.gl short links after the 13th, but existing users can manage them via the goo.gl console for the next year. After that, all the links will still work, but you won't be able to access the console itself after March 30th, 2019. Google suggests creating FDLs from now on, or using other shortening services like Bitly and Ow.ly.
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Google Is Shutting Down Its Goo.gl URL Shortening Service

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  • by itsme1234 ( 199680 ) on Saturday March 31, 2018 @03:08AM (#56357655)

    "Drive more installs with social, email, and SMS marketing campaigns"

    Doesn't sound fishy at all.

  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Saturday March 31, 2018 @03:13AM (#56357663)

    Right up until next year when forever means they are shutting it down in 2 weeks

  • I use goo.gl urls to send people map links but the dialog which does that now has lost the shortener option and replaced it with a link which is automatically shortened. Why do this if you are ditching the shortener?

  • by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Saturday March 31, 2018 @03:23AM (#56357683)

    Two things you shouldn't do on the internet: rely on URL shorteners (because they remove human readability from URLs, add an extra unnecessary lookup, and rely on a service that may randomly disappear), and rely on Google (because anything they make may randomly disappear).

    Don't use their office tools. Don't use their programming languages. Don't use their online storage. Don't use their email service. Don't even use their bloody search engine. Sooner or later they get tired of it, and it will disappear without a trace.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Two things you shouldn't do on the internet: rely on URL shorteners (because they remove human readability from URLs, add an extra unnecessary lookup, and rely on a service that may randomly disappear), and rely on Google (because anything they make may randomly disappear).

      Yeah, except it's not disappearing. Only the ability to create new links is disappearing. Existing shortened links will continue to work indefinitely.

    • No it won't because if you bothered to read any part of the announcement you'll realise existing Goo.gl links will continue to work

      • by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Saturday March 31, 2018 @04:29AM (#56357779) Homepage
        For now. This is Google we're talking about, you know, that company that has a habit of killing products that don't meet its internal targets, users be damned? If the links continue to work for any significant period of time after March 2019 I'm going to be very surprised. Also, as food for thought, Google is also also in a position to expand all the "goo.gl" entries in their own search databases to link directly to their intended targets while breaking them for everyone else in the search biz. Not that a company that does no evil would do that, of course. /s
        • This is Google we're talking about, you know, that company that has a habit of killing products that don't meet its internal targets, users be damned?

          Except this wouldn't affect users as much as it would affect companies, and "users" is being a bit dramatic. Often "user" would be a more apt word given the low popularity of things they have killed.

          • by Zocalo ( 252965 )
            "Users" in the context of "users of the Goo.gl service", which obviously includes both companies and individuals. Sure, many of the things Google has killed have been moribund and the singular form of user isn't probably too wide of the mark, but they've also killed products that have had a small but quite active community, and at least for now goo.gl seems to be closer to the latter category. By March next year though, or whenever they might eventually shut it down for good, I guess it'll be a lot smalle
            • It is not so much a concern what google is canceling ... but what they put life in the first place, e.g. GoogleTalk and then Hangouts ... not even having a native hangouts client for macs but need to run it as a Chrome plugin, that sucks so big time ...
              Seems the internet is only used by idiots in our times, and a "power user" has to cry every 5 minutes about their stupidity.

            • Which is precisely my point. Google has yet to see corporate or commercial users. And the links will keep working and they didn't kill the service without offering an alternative.

        • by kir ( 583 )
          Regardless, I thought URL shorteners were only useful for making things fit better in IRC/Slack/etc. and for Rickrolling unsuspecting youth (us old geeks tend not to fall for it anymore).
    • by VanessaE ( 970834 ) on Saturday March 31, 2018 @05:21AM (#56357909) Homepage

      I'll have to disagree a bit:

      URL shorteners do have at least one valid use: if you're short on space into which a URL can be inserted, either because of some imposed limit, or because of etiquette of the medium, such as one's signature in a forum post or email, and so long as you have some degree of control over the content the use will get when following said link. On one forum site I use, my signature contains several links, which all point to other pages on the site, all for resources I created or maintain. Those links would otherwise greatly overflow the signature editor's limit, because that editor counts characters in the raw text, not the "rendered" result.

      As for Gmail, let's face it, it's been around long enough (14 years) that it's become pretty ingrained for business and personal use. It ain't going away. As far as I'm concerned, it's safe to use, provided you're smart about it and use a real email client to access it, i.e. with claws-mail or similar, downloading your emails via POP and keeping local copies. Even if Gmail goes away tomorrow, you still have all of your data (minus whatever you haven't fetched yet), so you can just switch to some other service, and send updates to your contacts as needed.

      The rest of your post is good advice, in any case.

      • by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Saturday March 31, 2018 @08:11AM (#56358143) Journal

        GMail is heavy linked to Google Docs, and that has lots of fancy automation via G-Scrip. Companies offer business solutions based on document management.

        I doubt that ever will go away.

      • Normally the imposed limit is there so you don’t put urls into the spots, or go too far from the main page.

        So you are saying url shorteners today are good for sites that need to fix their space requests or you want to be a jerk and abuse the sites formatting standards.

      • URL shorteners do have at least one valid use: if you're short on space into which a URL can be inserted, either because of some imposed limit, or because of etiquette of the medium, such as one's signature in a forum post or email, and so long as you have some degree of control over the content the use will get when following said link.

        Not really. The one place that was really a problem was Twitter, but now they shorten URLs for you so that they don't take up tweet space. If you're putting a link into a sig, you want it to be punchy anyway. Putting a shortened link into your sig is a good way to never have your sig link followed by anyone with a clue, since people know that url shorteners are frequently abused.

      • URL shorteners do have at least one valid use: if you're short on space into which a URL can be inserted, either because of some imposed limit, or because of etiquette of the medium,

        Another reason is if you deliberately want the URL to be short-lived. e.g. You want to post a link to a public form like slashdot, but you don't want it around forever in slashdot's archives. It's easier to use a URL shortening service which allows you to delete the shortened URL at a later date, than it is to change the URL

      • Even if Gmail goes away tomorrow, you still have all of your data (minus whatever you haven't fetched yet), so you can just switch to some other service, and send updates to your contacts as needed.

        The rest of your post is good advice, in any case.

        The rest of your post is good. ;) But google has a really good track record of letting you download your data when they shut something down. So the analysis of the potential harm should limit itself to the cost of switching services. There is not a realistic risk of losing your actual email data, it's only the integration with their other tools that you'd lose.

    • URL shorteners are necessary because useful URLs are already often not human readable, and even when they are, are much harder to communicate to others than a short string of garbage.

      This is partly due to how The Business Model caused this technology to be used in unanticipated ways. Every website is obsessed with its front page and hates when you link to anything else, because they might get less or no ad revenue if their content is actually useful to people who haven't visited it. They don't give a fuck
    • Score:5, Interesting
      And yet the entry clearly shows its author didn't even read TFS properly. he only read the headline, which sucks because it's stupid and misleading.
      So we went from reading TFA to reading TFS to reading the headline only. What's next, blindfolded commenting?

    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

      TinyURL lets you make a human-readable URL (they call it a "custom alias").

      https://tinyurl.com/ [tinyurl.com]

  • by Trax3001BBS ( 2368736 ) on Saturday March 31, 2018 @03:37AM (#56357703) Homepage Journal

    Or tinyurl.com. They have been doing this for a long time now, and no log in required.

    Two links to Slashdot.org - https://tinyurl.com/87d [tinyurl.com] will take you right to /. and https://preview.tinyurl.com/87... [tinyurl.com] which will allow one to preview or see what link you will be taken to.

    "Click here to enable previews." seen when previewing, I assume (I've never used it) will make previewing automatic, or default.

  • by Sivaraj ( 34067 ) on Saturday March 31, 2018 @03:38AM (#56357705)

    What is the schedule for shutting down FDL?

    • FDL is the new service ...
    • What is the schedule for shutting down FDL?

      That depends on its adoption and if it is fighting with competitors. Goo.gl offers nothing that bit.ly and others don't already offer. There's no reason to keep it around. as an independent service.

      • That depends on its adoption

        because we've seen what causes lack of adoption to google products...
        let's take g+ for instance.
        Nobody uses it, they forced it into youtube.
        Then everybody got pissed, so they forced it into companies/websites, so now you are obligated, in order to make your website seo friendly and your company searchable, to have a useless google+ account, that nobody cares and nobody visits.
        Google products were never about adoption, they are about market penetration.

        • Spelling and grammar aside nothing in your post made any form of coherent sense at all.

          You made a subject statement.
          Said you'll provide an example.
          Made an assertion about that example that has nothing to do with the original subject statement along with an off topic comment.
          Doubled down on that off topic comment with a another completely baseless sentence.
          Then finished with another statement that while reasonable in its own right has nothing at all to do with what you wrote thus far.

          If you were making a poi

          • Don't you see any connection between various google products rising, then falling, or in some cases keeping them alive just so they can have a competitive product on an existing monopoly/oligopoly? I believe that, that's the most obvious observation you can make when looking at google products/services

            You did so very poorly.

            meh... I am not a native English speaker and most of my posts are written under between small breaks.
            I am not stupid so as to have trouble extracting the meaning out of your statements, even though your are no

    • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Saturday March 31, 2018 @04:56AM (#56357863)

      It'll be shut down so fast, it'll be Faster Dan Light.

    • What is the schedule for shutting down FDL?

      Once the replacement FTL is ready, yesterday.

    • by Njovich ( 553857 )

      They say it's available free forever in bold on the homepage. So in human years that's at least 12 months.

  • Goo.d (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Saturday March 31, 2018 @03:54AM (#56357725)

    URL shorteners are of the devil - people should never be asked to click on an obfuscated link.

    • URL shorteners are of the devil - people should never be asked to click on an obfuscated link.

      That depends. If the URL is a 400 character long alphabet soup then it's already nearly as obfuscated. The ideal middle ground would be a shortening using a service that previews the URL first before directing you through.

      • by mentil ( 1748130 )

        It might make more sense to create a DNS-type protocol that browsers interface with, that link shorteners can be compliant with, rather than relying on the sites to do that. Then again, now that Twitter no longer counts URLs in the 140 character limit, there's little reason to still use URL shorteners.

      • That depends. If the URL is a 400 character long alphabet soup then it's already nearly as obfuscated.

        But generally you can see the domain, which is the important part. Granted, there are ways to obscure even that in long URLs, but just because there are other ways to obscure a domain doesn't make this one good.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They are for giving somebody over the telephone on hand-written on a piece of paper and similar situations, where you want to write or memorize as little as possible.

      • They are for giving somebody over the telephone on hand-written on a piece of paper and similar situations, where you want to write or memorize as little as possible.

        exactly. If I have to type a URL from one computer to another. I used to pipe it into Goo.gl so I wasn't typing huge overly long links.

    • So I have to send six lines of google maps link.

    • should do like slashdot, display the domain in [ ]'s.
    • by kir ( 583 )
      You've clearly never used some horrible thing like ServiceNow or a poorly implemented deployment of RT.
    • Meh. In a sense, the web is all obfuscated anyway. When you put a link in a page, you don't see the URL. If you do see the URL, it's usually the domain name and not the IP. If you see the IP, there's no guarantee that there's no redirection going on. Even if you know the destination, by nature of the Internet you won't know the path your traffic takes and what might be happening with that traffic en route.

      I know, I'm being nit-picky, but my point is that the Internet isn't designed to provide real cla

  • Can't decide if it's a good thing or not because my main exposure to shortened links is when the spamming scammers use them to disguise their drive-by attack websites. Anyone ready to vouch for this new approach (or reproach it)?

    By the way, I've never understood the abuse of shortened links. If they wanted to stop the abuse, the solution is quite obvious. When the abuse is reported, they would take over the link and permanently repoint it at the worst website for the spamming scammer. For example, rather th

    • by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Saturday March 31, 2018 @04:38AM (#56357813) Homepage
      Of course it's a good thing. If you're Google. Here's the key feature for them from the FBL info page: "Dynamic Links can help migrate users from your website to your mobile app. Give them an easy way to send themselves a deep link that, when clicked on a mobile device, automatically opens in the right context within your app (even if they need to install the app first)." (emphasis mine).

      This is all about getting more people locked into Google's app and advertising ecosystem where they can be more easily tracked and monetized, both through App sales and (of course) selling their data to marketers.
      • by shanen ( 462549 )

        Glad to see you got the insightful mod you deserved, but I was too busy to respond and now it's too late, so this is just an ACK. Much more could be said on the topic, but you've helped motivate me to approach it from a fresh perspective.

      • by shanen ( 462549 )

        So here is a link to the derivative topic: https://slashdot.org/journal/3... [slashdot.org]

        I actually wrote an Ask Slashdot version, too, which was apparently put on the front page by one editor before the next one nuked it.

  • by demon driver ( 1046738 ) on Saturday March 31, 2018 @04:32AM (#56357785) Journal

    ... I see no big problem here, which, of course, is a positive exception in Google's history of service discontinuations.

    Those few parts of Google's own services which produced short goo.gl links themselves when clicked on, which are primarily Google's own problems now, if they even still exist. It's not as if goo.gl would have been the only or just the best URL shortener service. Personally, I like tinyurl.com, because it has been there for such a long time – and because it gives cautious folks the option to look up what's behind a shortened link before they go there.

  • The Firebase website says "Dynamic Links are free forever,"

    IOW, it's free now and even in the future when Google dumps it and discontinues the service it's still free.

    HAHA, very funny Google,

  • by twms2h ( 473383 ) on Saturday March 31, 2018 @04:56AM (#56357865) Homepage

    > Google suggests creating FDLs from now on, or using other shortening services like Bitly and Ow.ly.

    Even better: Don't use an url shortener service at all. What's the point?

  • from the braindead soldiers of the android army.
  • by WoodstockJeff ( 568111 ) on Saturday March 31, 2018 @11:19AM (#56358801) Homepage

    Our email servers enforce a "no shortening" policy. Any emails with a shortened URL is bounced. When we explain to the sender why it bounced, they usually say, "Oh, yeah, that makes sense!"

    Email isn't Twitter. There is no reason to not use the full link, which can be examined to discover that it is headed off to a compromised Wordpress site to pick up the latest targeted malware.

    Only a few of the shortening services provide an easy way to decode the link prior to clicking on it, and some of those require you to "add a cookie" or modify the link in some way to view the real target.

    There are sites that will do the decoding for you, by fetching the shortened URL and reporting back where they were redirected to, but that still tells an attacker that their email reached someone.

    So, bouncy bouncy!

    • Email isn't Twitter. There is no reason to not use the full link

      Other than that RFC 2821's definition of "text line" limits SMTP line length to 998 characters. How should someone who needs to send a longer URL to your clients do so?

      • The limit on text line length has been "dealt with" by email clients for, um, well, a couple of decades.

        Another reply mentions "Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable", which can split longer lines quite easily, so most common email programs will split lines at 70-120 characters, to stay well under the RFC limit.

        Looking at the raw source of a bounce message I received earlier today from a Microsoft Outlook.com, the first two lines are:

        [http://products.office.com/en-us/CMSImages/Office365Logo_Orange.png

    • "Email isn't Twitter. There is no reason to not use the full link"
      Even in Twitter there's no reason not to use a full link. Twitter already adds it own layer of URL shortener, and a URL counts as 23 characters no matter the actual length.

    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      There is no problem with a shortened URL. You're just inflicting your OCD on others. You seem to believe that you can somehow tell if a URL is safe by looking at it. You're wrong. And kinda dumb for believing something so obviously wrong.

      • "You're just inflicting your OCD on others."

        As one of the people in charge of online security at my employer, it is my JOB to inflict my OCD on others, within reason.

        There are links out there that are "obviously" (to the observant) bad. We also have rules that look for those - deep links into a Wordpress site, for example. Or arbitrary domains in China that end with "friend.php".

    • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

      which can be examined to discover that it is headed off to a compromised Wordpress site to pick up the latest targeted malware.

      How do you know if Wordpress has been compromised without visiting the site, regardless of the format of the link?

  • Google suggests creating FDLs from now on, or using other shortening services like Bitly and Ow.ly.

    Why use shortened links to begin with? What's wrong with using full links?

    In the end, all these shortening services do is break the web. The same goes for third-party image hosting services. I keep finding threads where people have posted projects online but all the photos are broken because of Photobucket's new terms of service.

The best defense against logic is ignorance.

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