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File:TinyURL Screenshot.JPG
URL http://www.tinyurl.com
Slogan Making long URLs usable!
Commercial? Yes
Type of site URL shortening
Registration No
Owner Gilby Productions
Created by Kevin Gilbertson
Launched 2002
Revenue Donations, Advertising
Current status Active

TinyURL is a web service that provides short aliases for redirection of long URLs. Kevin Gilbertson, a web developer, launched the service in January 2002 so that he would be able to link directly to newsgroup postings which frequently had long and cumbersome addresses.



The TinyURL homepage includes a form that's used to submit a long URL for shortening. For each URL entered, the server adds a new alias in its hashed database and returns a short URL such as http://tinyurl.com/2unsh in the following page. If the URL has already been requested, TinyURL will return the existing alias rather than create a duplicate entry. The short URL forwards users to the long URL.

TinyURL has a downloadable browser toolbar. [1] Also, TinyURL offers an API that allows applications to automatically create short URLs. This is done by simply reading the result returned from tinyurl.com/api-create.php?url=SOURCE_URL.

Short URL aliases are seen as useful because they are easier to write down, remember or pass around, are less error-prone to write, and also fit where space is limited such as IRC channel topics, email signatures, microblogs, certain printed newspapers (such as the .net Magazine or even Nature), and email clients that impose line breaks on messages at a certain length. People posting on Twitter make extensive use of shortened URLs to keep their tweets within the service-imposed 140 character limit.

Starting in 2008, TinyURL allows users to create custom, more meaningful aliases. This means that a user can create descriptive URLs rather than a randomly generated address. For example, http://tinyurl.com/wp-tinyurl.


Shortened URLs introduce potential problems such as linkrot and obscurity concerns, which have led to criticism of the use of TinyURL.

Early abuses

Early on, the resulting URL aliases of the service were predictable, and were exploited by users to create vulgar associations. The URL aliases dick and cunt were made to redirect to the White House web sites of former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and former Second Lady Lynne Cheney, respectively. After the inauguration of Vice President Joe Biden, the aliases were changed to redirect to the White House web sites of Joe Biden and Jill Biden.[2]

Beginning on June 15, 2006, the aliases redirected to a preview page that contained the following disclaimer:

"This TinyURL was created by a user of our service back when the creation of the IDs for the TinyURL were sequential and predictable. This TinyURL in no way represents the beliefs of the people who bring you the TinyURL service and we apologize if this has brought offense to anyone."[2]

In February 2009, redirection was terminated and the following error message appeared:

"The TinyURL (dick) you visited was used by its creator in violation of our terms of use. TinyURL has a strict no abuse policy and we apologize for the intrusion this user has caused you."[3]


The popularity of TinyURLs influenced the creation of at least 100 similar websites.[4] Most are simply domain alternatives whilst some offer additional features.


The TinyURL method of allocating shorter web addresses has inspired an action known as TinyURL-whacking. Random letters and numbers can be placed after the first forward slash in an attempt to hit interesting sites without knowing in advance what they will be.[5][6][7]

See also


  1. http://tinyurl.com/#toolbar, TinyURL bookmarklet
  2. 2.0 2.1 "TinyURL preview feature for the URL alias dick". Archived from the original on 2006-06-15. http://www.webcitation.org/5eqwBzBgi. Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  3. "TinyURL preview feature for the URL alias dick". Archived from the original on 2009-02-25. http://www.webcitation.org/5equZdhmc. Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  4. 90+ URL Shortening Services, Mashable.Com, 8 January 2008, page 84
  5. tinyurl whacking - full of grandiose schemes
  6. New Scientist, vol. 179, issue 2404, 19 July 2003, page 84
  7. Honey, I Shrunk the URL, Wired News

External links

fr:TinyURL ko:TinyURL nl:TinyURL ja:TinyURL pt:TinyURL zh:TinyURL

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