Facebook took another step toward protecting the integrity of news articles shared via links on the social network.
In July, Facebook announced that non-publisher pages could no longer overwrite link metadata—such as headlines, descriptions and images—in Graph API or page composer, and it added a tab to its page publishing tools so that publishers that rely on overwriting link preview metadata in order to customize how their content appears on the social network can indicate link ownership and continue to edit their links.
Jack Marshall of The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Facebook took similar steps to bar advertisers who promote news articles from altering their headlines and descriptions.
A Facebook spokesperson said in an email to Social Pro Daily, “We want publishers to have control over how their stories appear on Facebook. Today, we offer the ability for publishers and advertisers to test different headlines for links to stories and other content they create and share on Facebook to see what works best. While they should be able to edit links pointing to their own material, they shouldn’t be able to edit headlines on stories they didn’t create. We announced in June that we would stop allowing people and pages from editing headlines in links to content they don’t own, and we’re also doing the same for when people buy ads. Advertisers will still be able to edit headlines in links when they point to their own content, and we have strict policies in place that prohibit misleading ads.”
According to Marshall, the Journal shared examples of advertisers potentially misrepresenting the content in news stories they linked to, including:
An ad for mattress company Casper linked to a story in Business Insider with the headline, “I bought a bed from the Target-backed ‘Warby Parker of mattresses’ and I’ll never buy one in stores again,” but the headline in Casper’s post was changed to, “How Casper Is Revolutionizing the Way We Sleep.”
Toothbrush maker Quip linked to a BuzzFeed story with the headline, “I Tried the Hipster Toothbrush That’s All Over Facebook and TBH I Loved It,” and “hipster” and “TBH” were removed from Quip’s post on Facebook.
A spokeswoman for Casper told Marshall the company changed the headline because Casper wasn’t mentioned in it, and because Facebook’s character limit caused it to be truncated, and Quip growth marketer Shane Pittson cited similar reasons to Marshall.