Google Quietly Gives Up on URL Shortening in Chrome

Posted on June 11, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Google Chrome with 13 Comments

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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Comments (13)

13 responses to “Google Quietly Gives Up on URL Shortening in Chrome”

  1. zorb56

    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.

  2. wright_is

    Google has a "no s**t Sherlock" epiphany...


    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...

  3. MikeCerm

    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.

  4. truerock2

    Apple does URL shortening on my iPhone. I really do not like it.

    But, I guess I can see where people at Apple think it is a good idea on small iPhone screens.

    But on a desktop PC? What a dumb idea.

  5. mi1984

    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 ?

  6. ebraiter

    Google drops a service or product?

    Say it isn't so! :-)

  7. smartin

    Is this why my results from google.ccom.netwiff.cn are always so unreliable? Maybe I'll switch to blng.com...

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