Fb:comments Tag No Longer Notifying Users

In accordance with a news item Facebook posted last Thursday, the fb:comments FBML and XFBML tag will no longer send notifications to users when another user replies on a particular comment board. Oddly, this change was not mentioned on the Developer Roadmap, and seems to have caught several developers off guard. Facebook says this change is to ensure that “users aren’t surprised after they post content in comment boards”.

Up until two weeks before this unexpected change, Facebook said that the fb:comments tag would remain unaffected in a discussion about the removal of platform notifications, which further complicates Thursday’s news.

The change was most likely planned to coincide with the complete removal of the platform notification system; however, it does create a sort of double standard given Facebook’s plans to keep notifications live for its own use, like notifying users when they have been tagged in photos, or content they’ve posted has been “liked” by friends. Facebook followed up the news today with this:

Regarding fb:comments – we apologize for the change in direction. We’re looking at possibly working in ways for friends to get notifications if another friend comments after them in a post, but for now fb:comments will not generate notifications for follow-up posts.

The fb:comments tag behaved more predictably than standard application-to-user and user-to-user notifications and more closely mirrored expected functionality found elsewhere on the main site, so their demise is somewhat unfortunate. Does Facebook have larger plans for the notification system in general? There has been much fanfare recently regarding platform notifications; we will be sure to keep you up to date with any changes.