Why Facebook’s latest algorithm change is bad news for social media managers everywhere

In its latest attempt to crack down on fake news, Facebook announced a new change to its API, and it’s not gone down well with publishers and social media managers.

The change, due to be brought in on July 17, will prevent users from changing the metadata (that is, the headline, description and image) that is shared when posting a link to Facebook. Currently, users can amend this information, which is a god send when a site has provided incorrect metadata.

Facebook post

Changing the metadata also allows clever publishers to experiment with different headlines and images as a way to attract different audiences. For example, you could post a story about UK politics, giving the headline a conservative focus and boost that story to a Tory audience. You could then post the same story but change the headline and image to appeal to Labour voters.

However, people have been misusing this power, modifying link headlines and images so that they are displaying misinformation. Its this malicious behaviour that Facebook wishes to crack down on, but are they damaging user experience in doing so?

Facebook quote

The content writers at Digital Media Team often amend incorrect metadata when posting links from third party sites onto clients’ pages. Many times, these smaller websites will not have an image linked to that page, or the image will be of poor quality. We’re concerned that being unable to fix these issues could make it impossible to link out to certain articles, even when the content of those articles would appeal to our clients’ audiences.

We’re hopeful that if the changes do start to damage UX for both users and publishers, Facebook will make steps to repeal their decision.

Yes, fake news is an issue that needs to be tackled, but is this really the right way to combat the problem?

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