How to fix the Twitter problem

When Twitter redirects don’t work.

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If you’re a Twitter user, you’ve seen the domain the company uses: It rewrites all URLs in tweets to pass through this redirecting domain to track “engagement.” It wants to know how many times links are passed—ostensibly, it could also filter against malware and spam, though I’ve never seen such a mechanism engaged.

But for years, some Twitter users in OS X have had a problem with in Safari. Instead of redirecting, the link results in an endlessly loading page that times out. Reloading the page results in a non-existent domain. Reload again, and the destination URL finally loads.

What’s up with that? Nobody knows! Or at least, nobody did. I looked at years of forum postings all over in which people noted the problem, and no one had a consistent solution. That appears about to change.

An Apple engineer who works on the WebKit team—the technology underneath Safari—recently tweeted in response to well-known Mac developer Rich Siegel and developer and podcaster John Siracusa that the problem has been identified, and a fix is underway. So relief is coming.

In the meantime, developer Stef Pause recommends a command-line fix you can issue in Terminal, if you’ve got the stomach for it! Enter the following and press Return:

dscacheutil -flushcache

This command dumps the domain name system (DNS) cache, which is a temporary repository of relatively recently retrieved values for linking human-readable domain names with the actual numbers and other bits of Internet plumbing needed for connections. Pause writes that it might need to be entered multiple times.

Another option, if you’re using Tweetbot for OS X is to change a setting via Terminal that turns off URL rewriting. (This tip via Dermot Daly on Twitter.) Enter this command and press Return:

defaults write com.tapbots.TweetbotMac OpenURLsDirectly YES

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