Facebook has removed the ability to edit previews of links posted by Pages as part of its bid to tackle the fake news on the platform.
The feature allowed Pages to change the title, image description of a posted link, but it also allowed fake news sites and spammers to trick people into clicking dubious links, or make it appear as if legitimate news sources were posting false information.
However, the change, which was announced in April 2017, has also impacted brands who used this functionality to change the content to better target different audiences.
Brands and publishers used the feature to A/B test their Facebook posts, by changing the headline, description and image.
This was a standard practice for most brands and it meant social media teams could test and choose the most appropriate content for their audiences.
While it is commendable that Facebook is tackling the fake news sites and spammers it has left brands without a key publishing functionality. When uploading a link, there are times that the image is not suitable, the description doesn’t match the story or there is a standard logo and text that won’t be appropriate. All of this information is pulled in from the metadata connected with the website link so it is important that this has been written with your audience in mind. In most instances, this isn’t the case.
Options: Link ownership and metadata tweaks
So what can brands do to overcome this limitation? Facebook announced some options for Pages to use, although it is only really allowing the media brands that are able to retain the editing functionality.
If you are a media publisher, you can use the Link Ownership option which lets you authorise your Page to continue to modify the previews of links to your website. Media publishers can find this option in the Publishing Tools section of their Facebook Page and you have until 12 September to get this authorisation from Facebook.
For those Pages that aren’t media publishers, Facebook is recommending that brands use Facebook’s Open Graph Debugger tool. The tool allows the social media publishing team to copy a link into the tool and then you can see how they appear before you actually post them.
When a random link was put into the tool, this was the error message that was received:
While the tool is good for highlighting issues, brands will spend a lot of time working with their developers to clean up their websites and make sure the metadata is correct.
Yes, Facebook needs to take steps to rid its social media channel of spam and fake news but it is making the publishing process extremely unwieldy for the majority of brands.
The social media giant says it will “learn what works for publishers and the ecosystem in the coming months. As content customization evolves we will continue to work closely with our partners to support the best tools for sharing links on Facebook.”
Let’s hope it rolls out a tool that every Page can use and reduce the number of steps it takes to publish a link post.
Have you seen the amount of publishing time increase since this functionality was removed? I’d love to hear if you know of any alternatives, not listed here.