If you’re anything as close to as paranoid about online security as I am, every time you see a shortened URL, like http://bit.ly/AAGooR, the first thing you wonder is “Will the website on the other end of that shortened URL be safe?” If you’re not at all paranoid about online security, time to get wise.
URL shortening services usually provide you with a way to find out where a shortened URL points. For Bit.ly and Goo.Gl, you can add a “+” to the end of the URL, so the very ambiguous http://bit.ly/AAGooR turns into http://bit.ly/AAGooR+, which tells you that it points to 10twebdesign.com and not some malicious website.
The problem is that the way you find out where a shortened URL points varies from service to service, and with over 300 shortening services (and counting) out there, keeping them straight is impossible. So how do you stay safe?
I give you longurl.org, which takes any of those shortened URLs expands it back out again so you have a little better idea of what you’re getting yourself into. It will, at the very least, give you the site’s title, full URL, keywords and description.
If the URL it spits back is “google.com” you’re probably in pretty good shape. If it’s “thiswebsitegivesyouavirus.com” and you decide to click through anyway, I hope everything works out alright.