Yesterday on Twitter I started seeing links pop up to what looked to be a URL shortening service run by the Republican National Committee –  The site has “gop” in the URL and has branding consistent with the main RNC site –  So it seemed reasonable to assume it was put out by the RNC. 

But if you look closely, it seems more likely that it is an independent effort meant to look like something put out by the RNC. As you’ll see from the screenshot below, the site doesn’t include an RNC copyright or the financial disclosure information (“Paid for by the Republican National Committee…”) that you’ll find on any official political website. 


Instead, the site is attributed to a firm called Political Media, which doesn’t list the RNC on its client list.  I also couldn’t find any mention of the service on the RNC Twitter account or website.  So I think it is safe to assume that this is an unofficial effort. 

As a side note, I do think it is a pretty good idea to launch branded URL shortening services.  It is easy to do, and with the ubiquity of Twitter I think it is a pretty good way to subconsciously brand your content.  However, the implementation on is heavy handed.  Here is a sample link to give you an idea what it looks like, with a screenshot below. 


I see two fairly major problems from a usability standpoint:

  1. There is no easy way to close the frame that is around the content.  So once someone clicks on a URL, they are pretty much stuck with the frame until they go in the URL bar and manually type in another URL. 
  2. Many URL shorteners don’t put framing around the content at all, and the ones that do use subtle colors that don’t clash with the end website and make sure not to take up much space.  The red here is simply overpowering.  Worse, on we’ve got significant framing on both the top and bottom of the page.  It is just way too much.

So in summary, I would never use out of respect to the people I share links with.  It has too many usability problems.

What do you think?  And please let me know if I’m wrong about the ownership of the service.

Update: And five minutes after I completed this post, was taken down with a note saying it will be back soon.  I bet the RNC got in touch.

Update 2: Looks like I was wrong.  It is back up. 

Update 3: Via Ali Akbar on Twitter, the new version of includes slightly different branding.  The logo has been changed to look less like the official RNC logo.  I’ll be the RNC gave them a call requesting this change as a condition for allowing the site to stay up.

Old Logo


Redone Logo


Update 4: The site is officially not run by the RNC.  It now contains this disclaimer: “ is a property of Political Media, Inc. The Republican National Committee is not responsible for any content generated by”

Update 5: Wired has a story on the tool, which says the site was taken down for a few hours today as a result of GOP opponents overriding the site with porn links.

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.