I know how important it is to be able to open links associated with text messages. You mentioned that this happened a few days ago, did you make any changes to your device (new software, apps, etc)? What make/model phone are you using?
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Are you using the Verizon Messages+ app? Check your settings, three horizontal bars top left of the screen, then settings from that menu, then scroll down to Advanced, and check to see if Enable Weblink Preview is checked. If it is unchecked, then check it, and see if that makes a difference.
I've tried to work with customer care on this and had to reset my phone, and it has the same issue. it opens into its own "app" and then will not open the actual link. I have to choose MORE then open in Browser, instead of it going to the browser. This is a horrible 'feature' update.
It's a gs7edge and even after the reset i still have the problem, and now my messenger doesn't want to send pictures to groups anymore! >:\