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One Million Clicks for U.S.'s Official Link Shortener

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, April 21 2010

Credit: NASA, via go.usa.gov/iOO

Two recent earth-shaking events -- the Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption and the Library of Congress' plan to archive Twitter for all eternity -- helped propel the United States government's official URL shortener go.usa.gov past the million click mark yesterday.

Why does the United States of America need its own social-media friendly URL shortener? For one thing, authenticity; only folks with federal email addresses can shorten URLs with go.usa.gov, and only federal URLs -- specifically those on .mil, .gov, .fed.us, and .si.edu domains -- can be shortened. For another thing, posterity; if the U.S. federal government goes belly up like some private link-shorteners have (see, for example, the late tr.im), we'll have other things to worry about than dead links.

The Library of Congress' short link to its blog post explanation (http://go.usa.gov/ik4) of why it's acquiring Twitter's archives passed more than 45,000 clicks through go.usa.gov. A NASA page featuring Terra satellite images of Eyjafjallajokull's plume (http://go.usa.gov/i00) passed through 15,000 clicks. All told, USA.gov, the GSA site that runs go.usa.gov, reports that more 5,600 links have been shortened using the service since its launch in mid-October.

I was motivated to check out the state of go.usa.gov (and, frankly, just so happened to catch it at the million mark) because I was reading an amicus brief (pdf) that the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a handful of other organizations filed in that texting case that the Supreme Court heard Monday. Thing is rife with TinyURL links! Maybe the judiciary should have its own link shortener?