Now that I regularly use Twitter as part of my business (eg, see “Social Media Enable Your E-Mail Ad Blasts“) I depend on URL shorteners to guide my @pharmaguy Twitter followers to more detailed information and messages on my blog and Web sites. Not only are URL shorteners good for conserving space in tweets, they also allow me to collect metrics such as clicks and referrers.
There are several URL shortening services I use regularly: bit.ly and Google.
Lately, I’ve been having problems with Google URL shortener. A few shortened URLs do not work and I get this error message:
This URL is supposed to link to the blog post “FDA, DOJ, & Google: Conspiracy Theory, Part 2”, which you can find here (no URL shortener used).
My conspiracy short hairs immediately rose up upon seeing this error message (and others that referred to links to similar blog posts) and I tweeted that Google was censoring me. My Twitter friend @richmeyer posted this response: “Spoke to friend at Google you are not being censored they are having some issues.”
I wish I had a friend at Google I could call, but I don’t.
Google, however, makes it EXTREMELY easy for any anonymous person to report URLs as spam — there’s a “report spam button” on the bottom of the URL shortener page that links to a URL Shortener Spam Report form. Luckily, there is an option on that form for me to make a case that this URL is “Incorrectly marked as spam, please re-enable the short URL.”
Meanwhile, while my report may or may not get reviewed by Google, everyone who clicks on my tweet containing the shortened URL will see that error message accusing me of being a spammer, security risk, or trafficker in illegal information! In other words, my credibility is taking a hit. Thank you Google!
UPDATE (14 July 2011): I was able to tell Google that the shortened URL in question (goo.gl/2givz) was NOT spam. To do this I had to click on the “Report Spam” link on the bottom of the URL shortener page — oddly there was no “Dispute Spam” link. The Report Spam form had a “Incorrectly marked as spam, please re-enable the short URL.” option, which I enabled.
BTW, I never received any communications from Google about the initial problem nor about the fix.