I’ve been supporting a dictator, and I didn’t even know it.

If the Wall Street Journal article published Friday, April 8th entitled Libya’s Widely Used Web Suffix Makes a Long Story Short is to believed (and it is), then I’ve  not only been inadvertently “visiting” Libya daily, but I’ve been sending my “peeps” there as well.   I am not happy.

I most commonly use Bit.ly and Owl.ly to shorten my URL’s for Twitter.  It turns out that the .ly suffix is the most widely used suffix in Libya and is controlled by the  Moammar Gadhafi regime.  It sounds like this “linguistic anomaly”  is unexpected, but definitely an asset to the Gadhafi regime, as it generates revenue from unlikely sources.  Us.

According to the article, “the .ly domain is controlled by Libya’s General Post and Telecommunications Co., whose chairman, Mohammed el-Gadhafi, is the dictator’s eldest son. It says it has rented out more than 10,000 .ly domains, either directly or through resellers”.

Here’s how it works:

I go to Hootsuite, copy and paste my long URL into the owl.ly shortener, get a new, shortened URL, and send it out into cyber space to my Twitter Followers.  I then click on the link to make sure it’s working, and almost simultaneously,  my “followers” click the link as well if the message I’ve sent out is interesting to them and they want to know more.  What I didn’t realize was happening is that when I clicked  on the Ow.ly address, a request then moves to “one of Libya’s five servers—two inside Libya, two in the U.S. and one in Europe. The .ly server forwards the message to Amazon.com Inc., the contractor HootSuite uses for its Web service, where the 4gC3v Ow.ly code is linked to the original website.”

Yikes.  All that re-direction (and through enemy lines) just so I can spit out my message in 140 characters or less.

I’m glad Owl.ly has a backup plan if word spreads and more people like me stop using the Owl.ly shortener.  A new suffix is all that is needed, and I want my links routed through another country, thank you very much!

About Angie

Angie is a CRAFT dabbling, recipe making, WORD loving, sunshine hording, book DEVOURING, Mama to a lot! She's kind of in love with Instagram right now, so if you want her attention, go find here there. {smiling}


  1. Wow! Seriously? Holy smokes!!!

  2. All that techno mumbo jumbo was Greek to me, but I’m glad you are no longer (inadvertently) supporting Libya’s dictator. Sheesh. The internet is/can be a very scary place.

  3. I had no idea. I also use these services on Twitter. I’m going to research alternatives. Does Libya actually make money from the redirects?

  4. I think I got lost in all that redirection!

    I never really gave much thought to .ly except that it’s used in shortened tweets. I think it’s time I use another service!

  5. Now I know why I don’t tweet. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  6. Jeez, thanks for letting me know. I will use something different next time too.

  7. Wow. I had no idea. Thanks for the information. I’m gonna be looking for something else to use as well now.

  8. Wow! That’s surprising! I haven’t used Hootsuite yet, just tinyurl, but I’ll have to check and see what the ending suffix is!

  9. i use tiny url and it ends in CC
    hope that is ok…
    glad you learned for all of us 🙂

  10. WOW! That is interesting. And yeah lets use OUR OWN country to route things and get the tweets shorter! Are we not America???

  11. Oh my. I didn’t even know how to shorten things. Now I am glad I don’t do it : )

  12. Um, that’s insane! I learned something new today. 🙂

  13. sheesh! Who knew? Not me!
    Glad I never bother to shorten my links (I’m too lazy to figure out how. LOL)

  14. We’ve all been committing acts of treason?! I exaggerate. Still feels criminal though.