First Click: Why does Safari hate Twitter links?

January 22nd, 2016

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Safari users on Macs have been plagued by an erratic, yet persistent bug for months that renders Twitter links unreadable. The issue presents itself like this: click a web link shared in a tweet and watch a blank Safari tab open with a t.co URL. Wait, wait some more, kill the tab, and then click the link again. Wait, try canceling and refreshing the page in Safari, then grunt with frustration as you copy and paste the link into Chrome. Repeat this dance of defeat a few times each day, not every day, but still several times each week.

If Chrome’s your default browser then you’re fine. Albeit, you’re running Chrome on a Mac which isn’t fine at all if you value speed and power efficiency above Chrome’s incredible, multi-platform extensibility.

t.co fail
Actual Safari window failing with t.co

The exasperating 4-month-old bug appears to have been introduced with the general release of OS X El Capitan on September 30th of last year. It seems limited to HTTPS links that have been contracted by Twitter’s link shortening service t.co. The issue’s been roundly discussed on Twitter and Apple’s own forums with several people — not Apple — posting what they claim are fixes.

Apple is apparently aware of the issue and a fix has been identified. This, according to Timothy Hatcher, WebKit Developer Experience Manager at Apple, who noted that the issue "is lower level than Webkit," the engine that powers Safari. When that’ll see a release is unknown.

I’ve tried a few workarounds over the last few months to no avail. This morning I started testing a new "fix" du jour to bypass t.co link shortening. So far, so good, in Tweetbot at least — t.co links in TweetDeck, however, still fail in Safari.

What about you, fellow Safari users?

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