Twitter is to introduce a new feature designed to wrap and shorten all links posted by users, in an effort to improve security and gain more information on links being shared.
The t.co service will mean that every link posted on the site, either directly or through APIs and mobile devices, will be shortened and scanned before being posted.
Sean Garrett, vice president of communications at Twitter, explained in a blog post that the service will be rolled out during the summer and will provide more insight into posted links.
"We want to display links in a way that removes the obscurity of shortened links, and lets you know where a link will take you," he said.
The move will also allow Twitter to keep track of all links being shared on its site by routing them through the service.
"In addition to a better user experience and increased safety, routing links through this service will eventually contribute to the metrics behind our Promoted Tweets platform and provide an important quality signal for our Resonance algorithm," said Garrett.
Raffi Krikorian, a technical lead on the Twitter Platform Team, explained in a Google Groups posting that the t.co system will always format links to 20 characters.
"Our 140 characters are now going to be defined as 140 characters after link wrapping. T.co links are of a predictable length, and will always be 20 characters," he said.
"After we make this live, it will be feasible to send in the text for a status that is greater than 140 characters. The rule is that, after the link wrapping, the text transforms to 140 characters or fewer."
However, Krikorian later responded to a question on the Google forum and amended the 20 character count to 19.