Dear Amy: Is there any way to tell where a shortened URL goes? — Abigail, Evansville, Ind.
Dear Abigail: Shortened URLs became popular as a way to share links without using up your character limit on sites like Twitter. There are many different URL-shortening services, and many websites use their own custom short links, such as Twitter’s t.co or Google’s goo.gl. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell where a shortened URL leads just by looking at it. You can use a URL-expanding website to see where a link goes and decide if it’s a site you actually want to visit. LongURL, longurl.org, is a great choice. It will expand a URL from any service in addition to giving the meta description of the site the shortened URL redirects to.
Checking where shortened URLs lead before clicking on them can also help keep you safe online. Although most short links are safe, sometimes spam emails or hacked social network accounts will use shortened URLs to trick you into visiting a malicious website. The safest policy is to avoid clicking on any links in an email or other online communication if you do not know the sender. To learn more about staying safe online, visit 4kids.org/safesurf.
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