You might've noticed various link tracking and URL shorteners around the internet. Some of the popular ones are goo.gl, bit.ly, tiny.cc, tinyurl etc.
It's better to not click on such types of links without knowing where it will take you, especially on social media messages. Many people with malicious intentions such as people wanting to know your information or wanting to send you to some kind of phishing page use those kinds of link shorteners.
Some types of malicious links first connect to a different site which tracks your data and then send you to a different harmless website so that the user does not know that the link was actually bad.
For example - Let's say you click on a shortlink called goo.gl/xyz. If you click on it, let's assume it will take you to google.com. But in a split second, it also connects to a different malicious website which you don't see on the screen, it only connects to the bad domain.
Then after connecting to it and fulfilling its purpose, whether it is collecting some kind of data or trying to send you malware to your device, it will show you google.com on your screen by redirecting.
So in this case, there's no way to know unless you see what's behind a short link before clicking on it.
Unshort.link will let you know what is behind a shortlink - Is it something malicious that you should avoid or is it something completely safe?
Use can use Unshort.link in two different ways -
1. You can copy the unknown shortlink and paste it into Unshort.link's check bar.
2. You can use the Chrome extension or Firefox add-on. The advantage of using the extensions is that, instead of manually going to unshort.link and copy-pasting links and checking it out yourself, it will automatically unshorten the URLs for you if you click on any. Just make sure to turn on the extension by clicking on it. You can also turn it off.
All shortlinks, even if not malicious, still tracks you. So to solve this problem, you can unshorten it with unshort.link and directly go to the website link instead of going through a third party tracking service.
The server of unshort.link accesses the shortlinks for you and redirects you to the actual, long URL. As a result, the shortlink service cannot track you since unshort.link connected on your behalf, your IP didn't connect to it. So all in all, it's a pretty useful service.
It is also open-source and it checks links against a blacklist by default to prevent connecting to harmful websites hidden behind a shortlink.