Have you noticed the rise of UTM tracking tokens in URLs? There’s an increasing amount of extra text being added after the URL, usually meant to tell marketeers how the link was found. At its simplest it might look something like…


Anyone not web-savvy who then shares the URL also unwittingly reveals to the world how they found that URL, unless the tracking is cloaked as gibberish numbers.

Anyway, urlHosted has spotted the potential of this URL misusage to initiate a new server-less communication method…

urlHosted is an experimental web app that misuses the part after the “#” of a URL to store and read data. … This means this app neither stores nor sends any of your data to any server. … [then] Whenever you visit the site [that has] payload data in the URL, the [URLhosted browser] app renders that data as an [text] article.”

One would still have to pass a clickable link somehow, so I’m not sure how useful this would actually be to anyone in its current form. I guess at its most clandestine urlHosted might work something like: Bill places a time-limited message-URL in an old post on his blog, then casually refers to the title of this post (without linking to it, or even mentioning his blog) in an email to Susan. Bill and Susan both know that this mention means she should check his blog and find the post in the next 12 hours — and then click on an URL there that has been temporarily altered to contain a message. urlHosted elegantly renders the message on a page for Susan. 12 hours later Bill switches the URL link back to normal. Since old blog posts are only rarely re-indexed by search services, and receive little traffic, there’s only a slim chance the message will be exposed to public view. The addition of simple ROT-13 to the message would make it even more unlikely to be discovered. But it’s probably much easier for Bill and Susan just to use SnapChat.

Update: There’s a handy Greasemonkey script for Firefox users that simply auto-strips such gunk from the URL when the Web page loads in the browser. Those in need of a standalone add-on for Firefox might look at Au Revoir ATM or PureURL.