An anonymous uniform resource locator (URL) is a shortened URL, or link, that takes a long website address and shortens it, in the process making it impossible for the user to know the real address. Many website addresses are long, especially for online businesses; by using an anonymous URL, it will be easier to digest the link. When links are sent via email, there is a chance they will break and the link will not be clickable. In social networking, especially when there are character restrictions, an anonymous URL allows the user to share websites without using too many characters. Online marketers also use this service to keep users from feeling sold.
With an anonymous URL, a long URL is turned into a short one; this works by making a redirect link. A special website address is made that is very short, though it really just redirects the user to the long URL address. This is considered anonymous, because the shortened URL does not tell users what website they are going to before they click the link. This means the anonymous link may be safe or malicious, and the user will not know until after clicking.
Long website addresses sent via email have a tendency to break, because the URL itself needs several lines. This breaking means the link is not clickable, which is an inconvenience. By using an anonymous URL, the URL will be short enough to click and will take up very little room in the email. This also looks more visually pleasing.
Anonymous URL services are often used in social networking. Most social networks limit the amount of characters users can type in a single message, and a long URL can easily go over the limit or leave very little room for the user to type anything else. This problem is alleviated by shortening the link, and it makes the website address easier to digest.
Online marketers also use anonymous URL services, sometimes legitimately and sometimes as scams. If the marketer creates a legitimate review website, he or she will often use affiliate links to link to products, meaning the reviewer will get a commission if someone buys a product. Some users may feel like they are being sold if they see the affiliate link, so the marketer hides it with an anonymous URL. Many websites do not allow affiliate links, but online marketers can use a shortened URL to get around this, potentially scamming other users.