What’s going on with Facebook Link Editing?
On July the 17th 2017 Facebook stopped allowing us to edit the links we post to our Facebook pages. That means we can no longer edit the Facebook link, thumbnail image, title or description before we post.
To top it off, posting links to Facebook has become glitchy as hell presumably due to Facebook making the changeover.
If you haven’t noticed the change yet, you will soon. It should have rolled out to everyone by September 2017. If you post or schedule to Facebook via a third party tool it will have kicked in already.
Who will it effect?
If you have relied heavily on link editing in the past you will need to make some changes to your site so that Facebook will pick up the correct information. Don’t worry, I’m going to walk you through how to do this.
Why is Facebook doing this to us?
Facebook has been at the forefront of the ‘fake news’ scandal. They are blamed by many for election results in the US, UK and beyond. Clearly, they need to distance themselves from an attack on democracy and have been working hard to eliminate fake news from our feeds.
One tactic fake news channels use to entice click throughs is link editing. By changing the image, title and description they can mask their links behiind fun clickable headlines, descriptions and images.
By taking away the ability to edit the link preview, Facebook hopes to combat malicious sites.
What can we do?
There’s an easy, not so easy and hard way to ensure that our website is sending the correct information to Facebook. These fixes will make sure that our links display the way we want them to.
1. The easy fix: Yoast
Yoast is one of the most useful plugins in my WordPress toolbox (it also works with Drupal). It comes to the rescue again with Facebook link previews.
Once installed to your site Yoast adds an interface at the bottom of every page and post. This lets you select the image, title and description you want to display when the link is posted to Facebook.
Scroll to the bottom of your post and select the sharing icon from the Yoast box.
Once you have updated your post you’ll need to debug the link using the Facebook Debug tool (more on that here). Tell Facebook to re-scrape your site and you’ll be able to check that it’s picked up the correct information.
2. Not quite so easy fix: Open Graph Markup
Open graph tagging not as complex as the name sounds. It is the code that tells Facebook what to display from your site.
If you are not on WordPress or Drupal Yoast isn’t an option you’ll need to add some code to your site to tell Facebook what image, description and link you want it to display.
Just four lines of code in the head section of your site will send this information to Facebook.
1. Defines the url
2. Defines the title
3. Defines the descritpion
4. Defines the image
Here’s the code you need:
Replace the links and descriptions above to fit your web page and paste this code into the head section of your website.
3. The hard fix: Become a publisher
A select group of Publishers still have an option to edit links from the ‘Publishing’ tab on their Facebook page. I’ve called this the hard fix because access to this tool is still very limited and decided by Facebook. Hopefully in the future they will find some way of verifying the validity of smaller sites.
If you’ve followed the instructions above and are still having issues use the Facebook debug tool, this should flag any issues with your page. In some cases I’ve found that updating the post or page can make a difference.