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Twitter unveils automatic link shortening, powerful media search engine

Jun 9, 2011

TWITTER has overhauled its service and is offering direct media uploads in tweets and automatic link shortening, and a new search engine that includes photos and video searching.

Twitter's new embedded link-shortening tool will be rolled out gradually. The features will be rolled out gradually and threaten not only the popularity of third party providers offering link shortening such as bit.ly, and photo uploads such as twitpic.com, but also the habit of searching for media with traditional search engines.

Media can now be #hashtagged -- something that will impact on media sharing and search optimisation generally.

An ability to directly upload photos to the Twittersphere is likely also to influence the way professional and serious Twitter users seek to attract followers. In short, Twitter is likely to become a more visual platform.

The underlying assumption of social media searching is that users are increasingly spending time finding links to news and information through Twitter and Facebook recommendations, and less by searching directly in search engines.

The inclusion of photos and video in Twitter searching however encroaches even further on search engine territory as the likes of Google and Bing offers video and photo searching as key features.

Twitter's new link shortening feature now has been extended beyond its employees to the start of a general rollout.

"As part of the rollout process, this will initially be available to a small percentage of users. It will eventually available for everyone. You should see it soon," Twitter said in an announcement.

"You can now paste a link of any length into the Tweet box on Twitter.com and it will be shortened to 19 characters. You no longer have to worry about fitting a long link into the 140 character limit," Twitter said.

Twitter's official blog said the company would release its photo upload feature "over the next several weeks".

"We'll be releasing a feature to upload a photo and attach it to your tweet right from Twitter.com," the blog said.

"And of course, you'll soon be able to easily do this from all of our official mobile apps."

Official photo uploading would be hosted by Photobucket, but Twitter said a Photobucket account was not needed for direct uploading of photos through Twitter.

Twitter's new search engine would include both photo and video searching.

"Today we're starting to roll out a completely new version of Twitter search," the blog said.

"Not only will it deliver more relevant tweets when you search for something or click on a trending topic, but it will also show you related photos and videos, right there on the results page."

Twitter said it was working with mobile carriers to offer direct photo uploading with SMS.

The changes are part of a busy and expansive month for the micro-blogging service.

This week Apple announced the integration of Twitter into their new iOS 5 operating system for iPhone, iPad and iPods.

The upgrade will allow users to tweet with a single tap from all Twitter-enabled apps.

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