Links are the lifeblood of the Internet. They point from one site to another and are often used to connect similar resources with each other, for attribution, or research.
Links can be clean, e.g., https://www.ghacks.net/ or they can be what many consider messy, e.g., https://www.amazon.de/b/ref=unrec_bubbler_2_en?_encoding=UTF8&node=1624983031&ref=unrec_bubbler_2_en&pf_rd_m=A3JWKAKR8XB7XF&pf_rd_s=&pf_rd_r=3YBY614EJ389QBEFV3XP&pf_rd_t=36701&pf_rd_p=c6c82179-3640-43e2-a115-60abf979c755&pf_rd_i=desktop.
While you still see that the second link points to Amazon based on the domain part of it, it is not clear what all these other parameters do that are attached to the link.
When Twitter appeared on the scene, services that turned a long URL into a shorter version followed because of the service's character limit. These services were useful on mobile devices as well as you had little screen space to display text. Even Google started its own link shortening service, but all had in common that the short link pointed to the long link without changing it in any way.
Google implemented a new feature in Google Chrome 64 for Android that changes that. When users use the share functionality on the device, links get cleaned up automatically.
Ryan Whitwam on Android Police suggests that the link cleaning has something to do with canonical links. Pages should have canonical links attached to them which point to a specific URL. A canonical link defines the main URL for content using the HTML tag rel="canonical", e.g. <link rel="canonical" href="https://www.ghacks.net/2008/02/18/clipboard-caching-utility/" />
Links may have parameters attached to them, and it is sometimes difficult for search engines to determine the primary URL for content because of that. The canonical tag helps as webmasters may use it to set the primary URL for content using it.
Anyway, if you use the share menu in Chrome 64 on Android, you will notice that long messy links with lots of parameters may get cut. Amazon is probably a prime example for that, and it appears that Google uses canonical information if available to cut the link.
The canonical link points to the same resource, but it may omit information. Link anchors are stripped which means that users who open the link start at the top of the resource and not at the position the link anchor refers to. Affiliate links get stripped as well which may hurt webmasters who use them to earn revenue.
On the other hand, tracking information, for example, Google Analytics data, may be removed as well in the process.
Chrome on Android users can copy the full link but not by using the share menu. A long-tap on the URL in the address bar displays an option to copy the entire URL so that it can be shared in its entirety.
I have to admit that I'm not in favor of web browsers changing links on their own as it takes away control from users. Admittedly, Chrome users can still copy the full URL at this point in time and the process may deal with tracking links on top of that.
Now You: What's your take on this feature?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.