Facebook hides page content from logged-out users

[Update 6/20/12 10:30 a.m. PT – Facebook says not being able to access pages while logged out is a bug and it is working on a fix.]

[Update 6/20/12 11:58 a.m. PT – Facebook appears to have resolved this issue. Users can once again see posts, apps and other page info even when they are not signed in.]

Facebook pages are no longer visible to users who are logged out of the social network.

Users who visit fan pages without being signed into Facebook will not be able to see any details on a page’s Timeline besides a login dialog. However, when users enter their email and password, they are redirected to News Feed, not the page they originally landed on. This could be detrimental for pages and particularly for those paying for logout ads.

It is unclear when this change was made and how widely it has been rolled out. It’s possible that this is a bug, but Facebook has not yet responded with more information.

Hiding content until users log in makes sense for the social network, which wants to bring users back into its platform and encourage users to stay logged in so they can use social plugins and integrations across the web. But taking users to News Feed rather than refreshing the page they had been on is not a good user experience and it has implications for the millions of fan pages seeking new Likes and engagement.

The number of users visiting a specific business or community page without being logged into Facebook is likely insignificant for most pages most of the time. However, organizations that promote their pages through email, print, online banners or other means outside of Facebook could miss out on conversions because the social network hides their content and pushes people to News Feed instead of their page.

This change is even more likely to affect Facebook’s own premium advertisers paying for the new logout experience ad. Although the ads are typically aimed at generating awareness and video views moreso than gaining new Likes and comments, the barrier of the redirect reduces the advertiser’s opportunity for earned media. Samsung is currently running logout ads in the U.S., for example. Even after clicking the name of the page directly from the ad, logged out users will not be able to see more Samsung content unless they sign in and then navigate back to the page manually. This is not ideal for advertisers who are likely paying around $700,000 for these logout ads and homepage units.

Facebook still allows logged-out users to see some public aspects of individual user profiles, but it does not show and recent or past posts, even if they are open to the public. Logged-out users are also barred from seeing a user’s Facebook or app activity on Timeline unless they have a direct link to the content.