As a frequent Twitter user who prefers to share links to interesting articles and websites, I need a URL shortener. Most recently I’ve been using bit.ly. It works great for me. It also has the .ly domain, which means it’s registered in Libya. The company is based in New York, not Libya, but it paid $75 for the .ly domain. On Friday, The Wall Street Journal had a good article about who uses the Libyan domain, and how some companies are starting to steer away from it. Also worth noting: You cannot currently get a new .ly domain because of economic sanctions reimposed on Libya by the United States. And one startup, Letter.ly, just ran into trouble when it was unable to renew its domain. With the proliferation of domain hacks to represent names, such as Canv.as and Instagr.am, international politics can be a concern. But for the average Twitter user who uses an .ly URL shortener to share links, should they care? I support the military intervention in Libya and I hope to see Muammar Gaddafi toppled. However, boycotting a URL shortener won’t help the Libyan people fighting Gaddafi. I’m sticking with bit.ly. For those who wish to chose differently, is.gd touts itself as the “ethical URL shortener” and highlights the fact that it does not use a Libyan domain. Is.gd is registered in Grenada, which has not been controversial since Ronald Reagan was president. Is.gd is no-frills, which may be all you need (image above is from is.gd’s sister site, v.gd). There are many country domains to chose from. Or you can create your own vanity URL shortener.

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