Facebook Temporarily Blocks All Ow.ly URL Shortener Links

Earlier today, Facebook temporarily blocked URLs shortened with the Ow.ly domain used by HootSuite, possibly in response to a worm distributed in an Ow.ly link. The worm’s shortened URL contains the Facebook query string “?=www.facebook.com/photo.php” which could fool users into thinking they were visiting a Facebook page. All Ow.ly links on Facebook, legitimate and malicious, temporarily led to Facebook’s blocked abusive site error page.

When asked to comment, Facebook said “As we recently explained in a blog post, spammers sometimes try to hide their malicious links behind URL shorteners like Tiny URL or bit.ly, and in rare cases, we may temporarily block all use of a specific shortener.” The post says that “When we’re notified about one of these sites, we immediately add it to a block list and prevent Wall posts or messages that link to it.” While preventing users from reaching dangerous sites through Facebook is critical, blocking honest links by disabling a entire shortener creates negative experiences too.

While Facebook users should be wary of depending on shortened URLs which can break if that shortener dies out, many still use them to track clicks to links they post in their status updates. The Baptist Press Facebook Page posts Ow.ly shortened links to its news site in each of its updates, all of which were broken by Facebook’s block. Facebook must confront the question of where to draw the line between protecting users and offering them consistent, reliable service.

[Update: The problem has been resolved and Ow.ly links are once again posting to Facebook.]

Facebook Marketing

Mediabistro Event

Facebook Marketing

Starting January 13, work with the group marketing manager of social media at Microsoft/BingAds to grow your business on Facebook! In this course, you’ll learn how to set up your company page, understand Facebook best practices, and execute a monthly content strategy. Register now!


Leave a Reply

3 Responses to “Facebook Temporarily Blocks All Ow.ly URL Shortener Links”

  1. Guest says:

    Never click on those short links. Don’t trust em

  2. Dave O from HootSuite says:

    Just a heads-up that this temp problem is resolved and Owly links are again posting on Facebook (who are HootSuite users incidentally) without hindrance.

  3. 4 Reasons NOT to use Hootsuite | Ian Anderson Gray says:

    [...] on your Twit­ter account then you are out of luck. Finally, although only a tem­por­ary blip, there was an issue when Face­book blocked all ow.ly urls. Hope­fully that won’t hap­pen again.3. Expens­ive Cus­tom URL Shorteners.This isn’t going [...]

Get the latest news in your inbox
interested in advertising with inside facebook?

Social Media Jobs
of the Day

Assistant Editor

8 Inc.
New York, NY

Copywriter & Editor

Santa Monica, CA

Director of Marketing & Communications

Neumans' Kitchen
New York, NY

Social Community Manager

Tallahassee, FL

Editorial Director

Phoenix House
New York, NY

Featured Company

Join leading companies like this one and recruit from the nation's top media job seekers on the Mediabistro Job Board. Every job post comes with our satisfaction guarantee. Learn More

Our Sponsors

Mediabistro A division of Prometheus Global Media home | site map | advertising/sponsorships | careers | contact us | help courses | browse jobs | freelancers | content | member benefits | reprints & permissions terms of use | privacy policy Copyright © 2014 Mediabistro Inc. call (212) 389-2000 or email us