What is it?
Sit down. This one’s a doozy.
Facebook is making a huge change to its Graph API and will be removing the ability to customize link previews (*cue jaw hitting the floor*). This means that publishers will no longer be able to edit the headline, description, image associated with a link on their page. This update was announced earlier this year at F8 and is now taking effect.
Facebook argues that this change is a way to combat fake news on the platform by limiting “misrepresentations of underlying link content.”
How does it work?
As you can see in the examples below, pages were previously able to add a link to a post, adjust or add available images, and edit the headline and description. In the future, these options will not be available.
(Note: you may still see these options as the update is rolling out.)
After the update:
What does this mean for brands?
For publishers that rely on optimizing and augmenting social previews by editing headlines, descriptions, and images, this change could greatly affect your publishing workflow.
Facebook is well-aware of this issue in saying, “we also understand that many publishers have workflows that rely on overwriting link preview metadata to customize how their content appears to audiences on Facebook. We’re committed to a solution that supports them.”
As we wait for further updates from Facebook on native link modifications, brands may opt to create “Click to Website” dark ad units with their desired link data.
On an ongoing basis, brands should look to update their Open Graph meta tags to ensure all native previews look as they should from the outset. For more information on how to host and preview these changes in your CMS, please refer to Facebook’s documentation.
This move seems to be more about paying lip-service to the issue of fake news on the platform rather than providing a sustainable solution. Fake news goes well beyond scammy, click-baity headlines as there are many websites, pretending to be legitimate, that post misinformation every day. IMHO, the better solution would be to report and blacklist sites that are spreading such news.
Until we hear more, Facebook seems to come out on top with a solid PR play and an [potential] increase in paid promotion from brands that rely on customized content.
(P.S. do you think you can spot Fake News headlines? We’ve got an app for that.)
This post will be updated as additional information is available.