To get started, let's explain exactly what Facebook changed here. As a Page, you probably know when you upload a post to Facebook that includes a link, Facebook generates a link preview for that link. Within that link preview is a title, description, and image. Up until now, you have been able to edit any elements of the link preview as you see fit, which is great if the website failed to input a title or description into the metadata, leaving them blank and not very appealing looking, or if the image didn't match the article, or if you simply wanted to A/B test different elements of your Facebook post to see what generated the most engagement. Here is an example of the same post with the link preview being edited:
So, what exactly did Facebook change here? Well, in their continued effort to stop the spread of fake news and misinformation (spammers were, unfortunately, editing the link preview to such a degree that it was misleading as to the actual meaning of the content), as of a June 2017 update, they are no longer allowing any edits to link previews. According to Facebook, "By removing the ability to customize link metadata (i.e. headline, description, image) from all link sharing entry points on Facebook, we are eliminating a channel that has been abused to post false news."
Instead, they want content creators to rely on metadata to control how their links are displayed on Facebook when they are shared. So if you did attempt to edit a link when uploading it to Facebook, say when using a third-party tool, Facebook will no longer recognize those changes and will revert back to the default link preview as defined by the content creator in the metadata. At the time of the release in June, Facebook said "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."
What Are Your Options?
Facebook did introduce a way that will still allow publishers to edit link previews for their own domains. To do this, they need to indicate link ownership for that domain. According to Facebook, "Publishers can begin authorizing their Pages to modify link attachments from their website domains today. For these Pages we are extending the deprecation window to give publishers time to indicate link ownership. We know media Pages use this feature daily to customize and post high volumes of links they own. Pages eligible for this tool will see a new section in their Page's Publishing Tools called “Link Ownership.”. It is worth noting there is a deadline of September 12th, 2017 to indicate link ownership before Facebook removes this feature.
To indicate link ownership, click on "Publishing Tools" on your Facebook Page and if you are eligible for this feature (you must be a media publisher), you will see "Link Ownership", as displayed in the below screenshot. According to Facebook, if you are a media publisher and do not see this feature, you will need to reach out to your partner manager.
There Is Another Option - If You Are Using Social Report
Not everyone is a media publisher on Facebook and while you can change the Open Graph Tags for your own content to define the link preview (although if you aren't the webmaster and only handle social media, you still may want to change the link preview so it's customized based on the content of your post), what about when you are sharing third-party content, for example? There are still situations where it is necessary to edit the link preview. It's not very attractive to share a link that only has a picture and no title or description because neither has been defined in the metadata, but you're handcuffed by Facebook's new rule changes and can't change that. Or, can you?
If you are using Social Report to post to Facebook, you can still edit link previews, although we reserve the right to suspend any users who are abusing this privilege in violation of our terms. And the good news is if you are an existing Social Report user, there is nothing you need to do differently. You can simply continue to compose your posts in Social Report as you always have and edit your links as you always have, and any changes you make to the link, whether you are changing the image or editing the title/description, will be published to Facebook. So when you do run into a situation where you have a legitimate reason to modify a link preview, rest assured you can still do so and craft good looking posts.
There is only one small caveat when you do edit the link preview within Social Report. In the past, when the link preview has been changed, the original link you have been sharing in your post (in the below example, Forbes), has still been displayed in the link preview. Now, when you edit the link preview, a shortener domain will be displayed instead. However, that is a small price to pay to retain the ability to edit link previews. Here is an ability of what we're talking about:
If you DO NOT MODIFY link preview - the post looks as it always does:
If you DO MODIFY link preview, your post will look almost as it always does, except it will have a shortener domain underneath the article:
Is this the last we will hear on editing link previews from Facebook? Absolutely not. They are going to see what does, and doesn't work, over the coming months and respond accordingly. Facebook will be closely monitoring both publishers and the ecosystem to see the impact these changes have on the spread of fake news, and the difficulty they are causing for publishers wanting to customize their own content, and future changes will likely come at some point. It wouldn't be surprising if the link ownership feature was rolled out to all Facebook Pages at some point, versus just media publishers. Keep an eye on the Facebook media blog for any announcements on link preview changes.