I am going to miss Google’s URL Shortener spy

What? You didn’t know it was going away? Then let me break the bad news and tell you why it’s even worse than it seems.

Google, thank you for starting the shutdown on Friday, the 13th. That was so very appropriate.

Your URL shortening needs are well met on the web these days from Bitly to TinyURL to IS.gd and on and on. But one URL shortener always had that air of stability. Just like no one ever got fired for buying IBM, no one ever got yelled at for using Goo.gl.

Like with most Google changes, this one got very little advanced warning and almost no publicity. But, the writing is literally on the wall. If you go to Goo.gl today, you will see the message below in a large yellow banner across the top of the page.

Starting March 30, 2018, we will be turning down support for goo.gl URL shortener. From April 13, 2018 only existing users will be able to create short links on the goo.gl console. You will be able to view your analytics data and download your short link information in csv format for up to one year, until March 30, 2019, when we will discontinue goo.gl. Previously created links will continue to redirect to their intended destination. Please see this blog post for more details.

Thankfully, for those of you who have accumulated hundreds of shortened links on Goo.gl over the years, the links will still work, so don’t panic just yet.

I spy with my little eye…

Whenever I use a Google service, I always ask myself what Google is extracting from it. Even more so than those evil deep data people at Facebook, Google wrote the ebook on collecting personal behavior data from your seemingly innocuous interactions with the web.

I’d like to say that I experienced a bizarre coincidence of asking myself that very question just before landing on Goo.gl and noticing the forewarning of doom, but it’s not the first time I have asked this question and, previously, it left me scratching my head. It seems my head scratching was not just fleas.

Google, as well, had obviously been wondering what they were really getting out of the this service compared to all the other personal and semi-anonymous behavioural vacuum cleaners they have worked into your daily life on the web. It’s no wonder they found Goo.gl to be lacking.

With Google.com handling 99.9999999999999999999% of web searches, Chrome as the dominant browser, Google Analytics on every website, Gmail as the primary email service and Google Suite in every school, they pretty well have everyone from little Mary to Grandpa Jones covered already. They didn’t need a service that already told them what they knew in exchange for accumulating technical debt in the form of forever maintained forgotten URLs.

Now that I understand the deeper meaning behind killing off of Goo.gl, I feel even worse than before.

No problem. I’ll just go watch kittens: https://goo.gl/13Ngtd.