If you're on Twitter, you might have used a service like bit.ly to compress a web address to fit into the 140-character type space. You, also, may have been aware of the relatively old reports observing Moammar Qaddafi's now-beseiged Libyan government controls these .ly domains.
If you knew this already, congratulations: that's more that can apparently be said for NATO, the U.N., the U.S. Air Force, and Reps. Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner--all of whom have unwittingly used .ly domains, some of them even directing followers to updates about coalition military action in Libya.
In a Wall Street Journal A-Hed, Jess Bravin notes these oddities and reached out to the offices of a few of these organizations to see if they had any clue about what they had been doing. Nope: Nancy Pelosi's office "was unaware of bit.ly's Libyan connection. But 'given this new information, we will no longer be using this free service,'" a spokesperson told Bravin. Ditto for the Human Rights Watch, a non-profit that had decried Qaddafi's regime for blocking internet access within the country. "It's ironic and a little bit distasteful," said the organization's Washington director about unwittingly using the .ly domain.
On its site, the Journal captured a screenshot a particularly incongruent tweet from the U.S. Air Force Twitter account: "No fly zone in place, but danger remains, admiral says" with the rerouting .ly Libya domain nestled right underneath the text. And we just took a little screengrab, pictured below, of NATO's twitter press release about action in Libya using the .ly domain also.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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