We always like it when our people work on their own projects and hobbies. Hacking cool stuff together is in our DNA and how most of the companies that make up The Next Web got started. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that our talented designer Alexander Griffioen built a cool little tool on his own time.
What it does is slightly more surprising, or worrying, depending on who you ask. Shrturl.co is a shortener that allows you to edit the page that its shortened URLs link to.
It works like this: you visit shrturl.co, enter a page URL and press the big ‘Edit’ button. You’ll be redirected to a framed version of the target site which you can edit. You can change the text, add an image and do pretty much anything you want. When you are done improving (or defacing) your page you press ‘Save & Finish’ and you’ll get a custom shrturl.co pointing to your edited page.
Sure, this can be used for useful things like proposing design or text change and, erm, other things. But mostly it invites humor (or trolling, depending on how it’s used) – people changing headlines on news sites or coming up with fake news:
And that’s where it gets dodgy. The service works almost too well at tricking people into believing what they see. Do a search for “shrturl” at Twitter and you’ll see lots of (real or false?) shocked tweets linking to Shrturl’s pages. There is no disclaimer at the site you visit explaining that this is indeed a changed page and not for real. The edited pages and shortened URLs do expire after 48 hours, but that’s enough time to confuse all your friends, and the rest of the world if your share goes viral.
You can try the service yourself at shrturl.co and feel free to take a shot on some of our posts here. Do understand though that any negative consequences are your own responsibility, so might be better not to screw around with listed companies or The White House site.
With great power comes great responsibility – should Alexander have created this tool? Should you use it now that he has? One thing’s for sure, it’s getting a response; we’re told that Shrturl.to has generated 681,000 pageviews in its first week.