Google Quietly Gives Up on URL Shortening in Chrome

After a year-long test in which it received nothing but complaints from users, Google has given up on automatic URL shortening in Chrome.

“This experiment didn’t move relevant security metrics, so we’re not going to launch it,” a post from a Google engineer in the Chromium bug tracker website reads. The change was first spotted by Android Police, and Google has not posted a public-facing explanation for the reversal.

Google has been working to simplify or even remove URLs, the often-complex web addresses used by individual webpages, for years. n 2014, it launched a campaign to replace lengthy URLs with an “origin chip” that displayed only a site’s domain name in the address bar until a user clicked on it, but push-back from users scuttled the plans. In 2018, it began hiding the “www” and “m” prefixes from URLs before rolling back the change. And then it worked to remove the “http://” and “https://” prefixes as well. But the biggest proposed change arrived last year when it announced that it would experiment with automatically shortening URLs to be more readable.

This experiment did not go well, and now Chrome will simply omit only “https://” from URLs, as was the case before (and for many during the experiments, since not all Chrome users saw changes).

Many users were outraged by the changes, but the bigger issue, as Google finally admitted, was security-related. While the firm had added URL-shortening capabilities to Chrome “because phishing and other forms of social engineering are still rampant on the web,” the changes actually made those activities easier.

Anyway, problem solved. Google’s years-long effort to hide or shorten URLs is finally over.

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Conversation 13 comments

  • zorb56

    Premium Member
    11 June, 2021 - 7:30 am

    <p>Is it a Windows thing, or Edge thing, where when I copy a URL out of my browser and paste it elsewhere lately it pastes as a hyperlink with the title of the webpage being the link text vs the URL? It is highly annoying and always unexpected. I guess it could be a Teams feature too since I notice it most when that is my paste destination.</p>

    • Mikael Koskinen

      Premium Member
      11 June, 2021 - 7:45 am

      <p>This is a feature in Edge. You can disable it from Settings: Share, copy and paste.</p>

      • jbinaz

        11 June, 2021 - 8:11 am

        <p>I think that ctrl-shift-v also pastes the text and not the name.</p>

    • thalter

      Premium Member
      11 June, 2021 - 9:28 am

      <p>This seems like a bad idea, hiding the URL. The title can be easily faked, and the URL could literally be pointing anywhere.</p>

  • wright_is

    Premium Member
    11 June, 2021 - 8:23 am

    <p>Google has a "no s**t Sherlock" epiphany… </p><p><br></p><p>Who would have thought that obscuring the URL of the site you are visiting would be a security threat? Well, just about everybody other than the Chrome developers, when they announced the plan, it seems…</p>

  • MikeCerm

    11 June, 2021 - 11:59 am

    <p>There was an extension for Firefox that I used to use forever ago that would segment the URL and make each portion clickable, e.g., thurrott.com / cloud / web-browsers / whatever-else / name-of-page. It was handy for navigating certain sites, like navigating a file system. because you go "up a level" or back to the "root" with a click. I don’t see why that never became the norm, because it certainly made things more legible, and it was useful. </p>

  • truerock2

    11 June, 2021 - 12:22 pm

    <p>Apple does URL shortening on my iPhone. I really do not like it.</p><p>But, I guess I can see where people at Apple think it is a good idea on small iPhone screens.</p><p>But on a desktop PC? What a dumb idea.</p>

    • SvenJ

      Premium Member
      11 June, 2021 - 10:18 pm

      <p>If you click on it to copy, it gets the whole URL though.</p>

  • Daekar

    11 June, 2021 - 12:22 pm

    <p>Great news! </p>

  • mi1984

    11 June, 2021 - 5:02 pm

    <p>Well, the url should be handled by the domain and people should be better informed on how check the url when on a website, email or a google search. Then too why not have domains assign page id numbers to content ? </p>

  • ebraiter

    11 June, 2021 - 7:05 pm

    <p>Google drops a service or product?</p><p>Say it isn’t so! :-)</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      12 June, 2021 - 9:43 am

      This wasn’t a service or a product, it was a test.

  • smartin

    Premium Member
    12 June, 2021 - 5:11 pm

    <p>Is this why my results from google.ccom.netwiff.cn are always so unreliable? Maybe I’ll switch to blng.com…</p>

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