One in every four links -hyperlinks- present in the internet news of certain pages is completely inaccessible, a figure that increases progressively in the oldest web pages and reaches up to 72 percent in those created in 1998.

This was alerted by a study carried out by the Harvard University (United States) collected by Columbia Journalism Review, which focused on journalistic content published on the internet to analyze the status of deep links and find out what percentage of them are broken.

In the investigation, that is based only on the news from The New York Times website (from 1996 to mid-2019), 553,693 articles with hyperlinks were analyzed, in which in total there were 2,283,445 million links to other pages outside the medium’s web. Of these, 72 percent are deep links, that is, to specific URLs and not to main directories.

Of that 72 percent, one in four links in the sample (25 percent) resulted completely inaccessible, and the page did not load for different reasons.

The study was based on articles in The New York Times. (Photo: EFE)

The older, the worse links

Corruption of links is a phenomenon that becomes more likely in old web pages, since although in the pages of the year 2018 it affected only 6 percent of deep links, 43 percent of hyperlinks in pages of 2008 was broken.

This figure grows even more in the web pages of the year 1998 -just two years after the medium created its digital edition-, in which 72 percent of deep links go nowhere today.

This analysis only shows whether the links lead to a valid web page or not, but as its authors warn, even if the site is available, the same content may no longer be displayed as when the hypertext was added.

In this way, 13 percent of the intact links have undergone changes with respect to their original content, within a sample of 4,500 URLs -selected at random from those identified as intact- that was analyzed manually.

Changes in content also occur more frequently in old digital news, and while it only affects 4 percent of 2019 links, 25 percent of 2009 active links do not display the same content today.

With information from DPA.

SL​

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