Twitter – OAuth and URL Shortening Service

The last few days have been marred by changes as well as controversies for Twitter. It all started with Twitter sending a mail to all its users, updating them about the latest changes it intends to bring about in the website. The one noticeable and concerning change in the website comes in the form of Twitter announcing the launch of its own link shortening service (t.co).

The good thing about this service is that the shortened link provided by Twitter would contain a part of the original url and therefore lending the users more transparency in terms of knowing where they were being redirected once they click on the shortened links, provided by websites such as Bit.ly and tinyURL.

This was one feature which the spammers made the most of as they were able to link the users to malicious websites that talked nothing of the promised content in the Tweets or messages that reached the users.

In this way the users were more or less duped of what they really wanted and in turn got something entirely different.

But now a look into the controversial announcement made by Twitter. As part of the t.co roll-out, Twitter would begin logging every link that users click on its site and third-party applications. This announcement instigated a huge number a tweets from users who vented their concern about the privacy implications of such a move.

“Seriously @Twitter the link hijacking plan stinks of Facebook style privacy intrusions,” user @cheezeball73 tweeted.

Further explaining the new feature, Twitter said that the feature will improve its analytics capabilities, paving the way for more relevant content across the site. Also high on the radar is the security boon which this feature would promise as each link that the users click against would be checked by Twitter.

Once you click on a particular link, the request would be passed through the Twitter service and the relevancy of the link would be checked to know if the destination site is known to contain malware, and the checked link would forward to the user on to the destination URL. All this would happened in an instant.

The OAuth technology introduced by Twitter would also require all Third Party Applications to secure permission to verify users’ credentials and access their Twitter accounts. This would further facilitate in these Third Party Applications to not require users’ passwords to access their twitter accounts as the Applications would be barred from storing any user passwords, thus keeping the sensitive information secure.

As a result, the company warned that some applications may no longer work or require users to reauthorize them.

This step to scan and log all links shared through its new t.co link-shortening service — with the logging aspect of that plan has erupted into a vocal chorus of users unhappy over the implications.

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This entry was posted on Monday, September 6th, 2010 at 11:34 AM and is filed under Social Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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