Link shortening services such as TinyURL shrink lengthy, unwieldy links down to a manageable size, but the disadvantage of this technique is that you might not know where the link is sending you. Hackers and spammers sometimes use shortened links to trick people into visiting inappropriate content or malicious websites that distribute viruses and malware, so always think twice before clicking unknown links on Web pages and in email messages.
Some malicious computer users take advantage of TinyURL to distribute links to dangerous sites loaded with viruses and other programs that might damage your computer. If you receive an unsolicited TinyURL link from someone you do not know, you should avoid clicking on it. It is also recommended to ignore TinyURL links that seem too good to be true. For example, "Click here to win a free iPad!" is a long-running scam that sends you to websites designed to steal your identity.
Link shortening services are sometimes used to hide links to adult or humor sites. Friends might innocently send you a link, thinking you will appreciate the content. Unfortunately, opening the link at work or at home with the family could result in serious consequences. For safety, avoid TinyURL links while browsing at work, unless the sender tells you exactly where the abbreviated URL links to and the sender is a person you trust.
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One way to protect yourself before clicking a TinyURL link is to go to tinyurl.com and click the link on the front page labeled "Click here to enable previews." This simple fix tells TinyURL to not automatically redirect you to a TinyURL destination page.
Using the link preview function shows a simple preview page that displays the exact URL you have been sent to by the abbreviated link. From here, you can choose to either click the real link or simply close the window if the content appears to be inappropriate or dangerous.