McAfee launches URL shortening service

Anti-virus specialist and recent Intel acquisition McAfee has decided that the market for free URL shortening services isn't crowded enough, and has launched McAf.ee.

URL shortening services - like Bit.ly, Is.gd, and Twitter's own T.co - have grown in popularity as users of micromessaging services try to share content, only to run up against 140-character limitations. Despite the prevalence of existing services, McAfee has decided the world needs one more.

The selling point that McAfee is concentrating on with its "secure URL shortener" is safety - every link submitted for shortening is scanned for malware, spyware, adware and viruses using McAfee's own technology. Only links that are declared to be safe will be given a shortcut.

If the link you've submitted is considered 'safe,' you'll be given a unique shortcode which runs through the company's dedicated domain, McAf.ee.

As an example, the shortcut to get to THINQ - which has been classed as safe, you'll be overjoyed to hear - is http://mcaf.ee/21806e.

McAfee faces two issues if it's serious about getting users to shorten their URLs using its service - and the first is that it's entering a very crowded market, with a wide range of popular sites and an even wider range of also-rans. It doesn't even have the uniqueness of the virus scanning functionality to fall back on - rival security vendor BitDefender's existing Saf.li service does the same thing.

The second is perhaps harder to deal with - the size of the URLs. At 14 characters, McAfee's short links can't hope to match Is.gd's eleven character links - and on micromessaging platforms like Twitter, which has its own URL shortening platform, three characters can make all the difference.

You might notice that http://thinq.co.uk works just as well as McAfee's "short" version, which is actually three characters longer... D'Oh!