— Nate Hoffelder (@thDigitalReader) September 16, 2015
In the exchange that followed, Nate complained that Hootsuite basically takes reshared content and wraps it in a Hootsuite URL, with a Hootsuite advertisement banner (they call it a “social share bar”) at the top of the page. If readers click to other links on The Digital Reader from that share, the Hootsuite banner and URL remain, interfering with Nate’s ability to engage with his readers. (It’s possible also that it might interfere with search engine ranking, though Nate doesn’t bring up that point.) Nate suggests they should change their URL shortener to act as a 301 redirect, which would fix the banner-wrapping issue.
Buffer, the sharing service that I use to reshare interesting articles and also multi-share the TeleRead articles I post myself (including this one!), uses a buff.ly URL shortener that includes such a redirect, so it becomes the original site’s URL when a user is redirected through it. This allows Buffer to gather some metrics and statistics, telling me how many readers were able to view or clicked through each particular URL.
Nate isn’t the only user to complain about Hootsuite’s obnoxious habits. It’s one of the points Ian Anderson Gray brings up in his “7 Reasons NOT to use Hootsuite” post. Apparently Hootsuite got some flak about this in the past for its ow.li URL shortener, as it changed the behavior of that one from a 302 redirect to a 301 redirect in 2012, but the ht.ly redirect continues to use Hootsuite’s “social share bar.” It seems to be the choice of the individual Hootsuite user whether to use ow.li or ht.ly, and it’s the ht.ly behavior Nate finds objectionable.
Hootsuite hasn’t been the only service to run into this kind of flak, either. As I noted in 2012, Readability did the same sort of thing with its reformatted articles in 2012 until people objected and it stopped.