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How I Broke Facebook's 'Like' Button
I think I just identified a pretty major bug in Facebook's 'Like' button
dogboy




msg:4193821
 8:14 pm on Aug 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think I just identified a pretty major bug in Facebook's 'Like' button, which allows webmasters to write data on FB's social graph, which cannot be 'deleted' *if* they should they make a mistake when they initially implement the code into their website.

And due to the way FB presents the tool and the code generator to the public, many webmasters do not read the docs (and just add the cut and paste code) and fail to add the meta tags required to admin the tool... which causes permanent problems later, if they ever want to admin the tool. In fact, most webmasters with this issue dont even know there an admin panel should have been dynamically generated for them when they first added the code, which they forever locked themselves out of.

They will probably be deleted soon... because 'stickied' threads in the developers' forums tend to do that... but here is the most current status of the issue:
[forum.developers.facebook.net...]

 

dogboy




msg:4193890
 12:32 am on Aug 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

This is exactly the type of posts you are seeing across the web:
[webmasterworld.com...]
...this is a pretty major bug, imo. They need to stop the bleeding by getting a note on that 'Like' Button Code Generator asap, then trying to figure out a way they can remap the admins to the domains.

But now they have an issue with authenticating the admin really has the website's permission to admin their tool... and that's a little sticky. I suggested they email the 'tech contact' listed in the whois of the domain in question. Otherwise you have a hijacking risk.

Another issue is simply that the easiest solution may involve deleting the data associated with the fan's actions, which means people waiting for the solution will eventually have their count go back to zero. And webmasters don't get enough loves as is so I doubt they will take losing all their hard won contacts without a bit of a backlash. Especially when many are bloggers...

I guess we'll see what they say Monday.

bill




msg:4193922
 4:35 am on Aug 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

If I followed your conversation over on the FB developers forums then you added this Like button to your site, not an FB page or group? This does work correctly for stuff within the FB walled garden, right?

dogboy




msg:4194019
 1:58 pm on Aug 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well, first off, let me say I'm not a FB expert, nor a coder, so you need to take everything I say with a grain of salt. But I am an ex-SEO and I have an eye for seeing patterns in complex systems... so I'm posting half cocked, and only because I know how much collective energy is being wasted by webmasters on this, and FB was writing off all the integration issues on us being clowns, as this was their first experience bringing their tools to the public, and they were anticipating some issues.

In fact, the way this all started was I didn't really have a *deep* working understanding of what the new FB plugins were capable of offering, so I decided this was my excuse to create a little 'case study' site for myself so I could get some 'hands on' experience on what tools were available to the public, how they were used, and why I needed to know about them (from a marketing standpoint).

Anyway, it took me 20 hours to conceptualize and build out a little website that I thought had a chance of going viral... and then another 20 trying to correctly add this damn button. And let me make that clear: we are talking about a 'Like' Button FOR A WEBPAGE, OUTSIDE of FB.

As I said in that developer's thread, "A single simple grid telling webmasters what each tool is, what it does, where it shows up, when to use it, how it's different than other similar tools, etc. would help tremendously. Most people would never guess the 'Like Box' and 'Like Button' are not different expressions of the same thing."

...not saying you were confusing them, Bill, but I want to make sure I'm being clear so FB can solve the problem, and others (like me) wont inadvertently screw themselves. So to answer your question, I think a 'page', 'app', or 'group', is easier to set up without issue, because the webmaster understands what he/she is going to do conceptually.

If you make a Facebook 'page', 'app', or 'group', the process is initiated by the user. And the first thing the user does is begin to manage the admin page. So if there was no admin page, the user would be immediately aware there was an issue.

In the case of the 'Like' button, the admin is NOT inside their user admin panel... they are at a code generator tool on FB... and they honestly don't know what to expect. So if they type their domain in the form, and get some code to paste, they think they they did everything fine. The problem is that they will forget to add the meta tags, which gives the tool added admin functionality.

I don't want to double post, so read my response in the WebmasterWorld link I posted (in the second post of this thread) about why this bug is affecting such a high percentage of non-technical users. If FB would have presented their tools better, this bug may never even have surfaced. In other words, if you are a hard core coder, and you are planning a full FB Connect integration, you probably wont make the same mistakes as hack, like myself, who was trying to see what their most basic tool (which doesnt require the FB SDK) does.

Basically, if you tell me something is simple and stick a big code generator in front of me and spit out code that looks good, I'm not going to read the full docs on the subject. And many others are the same way. And THAT is the issue. The bug was pretty serious, but they are leading a disproportionate amount of people into it because of how they set expectations and present their offers.

So to come back to the question, do their tools 'work' as describe, I would guess, for the large part, yes, if you follow their docs. But this idea of writing to the social graph without the ability to delete stuff is most likely a systemic issue, but one that doesn't pop up frequently enough to get on the radar yet.

Look, I know this is kinda confusing for some people, and I'm doing my best to be clear, but if you don't get the issue yet, let me try to clarify...

- I have a website w/ a 'Like' button on it.
- You come by and 'Like' the homepage on my site.
- A connection is now made on the graph that YOU like this URL.
- I have no way to admin the tool because I inadvertently set it up with no admin panel to admin, initially.
- I cannot fix the issue, because even though I can delete my old code, I can't delete that you once 'liked' it... that has to do with you and the url, not me.
- To solve the problem, all the 'liking' data associated with the url needs to be deleted. And now the users (not the admin) are the only one who can do this. But how is the admin supposed to tell them without an admin panel tools to communicate with them? And the button itself only shows a few of the people who liked it (if you even set it up this way) not all of them, so the admin cant track them down individually to tell them.

Anyway, Bill, to get back to your question, I just don't know how deep this goes, but if does give you a glimpse at the social graph, how data is entered and removed, and who owns and has access to it. Once FB solves their site's UI flow issues into their tool section, they will solve this issue as well. Like I said though, they will have an issue with authenticating a user as the true admin of a domain, so who knows how they will handle this or how long that might take.

I'm obviously hoping the squeaky wheel will get the oil:)

dogboy




msg:4194096
 5:20 pm on Aug 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have the feeling they will delete the post in the developers forum, but the significance of what is going on in there is already in here, so I'll paraphrase what I just posted in there with hopes that may help clarify the nature of the issue even further...

If they took my suggestion and incorporated a meta tag generator into the existing 'like' button generator page, a person could then choose whether the button was intended to be used on an 'article' or it was going to be used to solicit likes for a website, as a whole.

If they did this, it would be very clear that the one that promotes an article means the person likes the *content* of the article or post, and the other means you 'like' the site.  Right now webmasters are unclear as to how to use the new marketing tool and the end users don't know what they are 'liking', because the icons are identical, but mean different things, in different contexts. Even adding a mouseover would help clarify while keeping it's footprint to a minimum.

freejung




msg:4194173
 8:21 pm on Aug 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks for posting this, dogboy, very useful. I too made the error of using an og_type of "website" on every page. I'm going to correct that, but once I do, what happens next?

dogboy




msg:4194188
 9:39 pm on Aug 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

eheheeh your guess is as good as min, bro:) Good luck and let us know:)

freejung




msg:4194197
 10:24 pm on Aug 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well, so far, nothing seems to have changed. My like counts are the same, and the button appears to be working properly.

I set up an application to administer my pages, rather than specifically my user name, but I haven't done anything with the app yet, so I'm not sure how much success I'll have with administering the pages. When I get around to writing my app, I'll post about it.

I can see insights for my domain just fine.

dogboy




msg:4194236
 12:04 am on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

ahhh, freejung, I hate to say it but you sound like me... if I get you right, you have more than 10 people liking your button, you have no admin page associated with your personal login, you see no admin link to the right of the button when you look at it... and you think that by creating a Facebook app, you somehow can manage the like button you created. My friend, I think you need to get a number behind me; FB owes you a dinner and a movie...

As I explained in that other post on here, what we need to do to regain admin access, we are not able to do right now, as far as I'm aware. Only Facebook will be able to solve this issue and reinstate access. I DO know that after 10 or so people interact with the plugin it freezes the ability to edit it, supposedly to protect the 'likers' from being bait and switched, somehow(?)

Now, to make things even harder to follow, the 'Like' Button and the 'Recommend' Button are (I think) the same thing and are created using the same code generator, although I'm still unclear whether each was supposed to corresponded to a different meta tag. Honestly, and this is pure conjecture, I think there was an internal screw-up in communication between what someone had in mind at FB, what someone actually built, and what they wrote to reconcile the two.

Because they should have had a third option that said 'fan'... unless that is what they thought 'Like' was for, and were planning on using 'Recommend' for items... although from what I see people doing online is using the same button all over, and eventually the surfer doesn't know what they are 'liking'. The webmaster wants you to like 1.) their website, 2.) their items, and 3.) their FB page... although most surfers may only click once and likely on the wrong button.

The scenarios (from a marketers standpoint) that really needed to be addressed were 'what is the nature of the subject matter'... is it a website/brand, or, something like a *product* of that brand, like a youtube video, a book, etc.... and what are the intentions of the 'Like-er' and the recipient of all this 'Liking'. Did the user intend to become a 'fan'? Or were they just saying they liked some discrete page on the site?

If what you REALLY want to do is get people to 'Recommend' an article and share it... and not try to recontact the fans later, by posting FB updates... then creating an 'article' meta, and cascading that through the articles' headers, you *should* be able to do what you want. And as long as you have your 'admin or app' id in there (in case one article spikes) you CAN admin that *specific* article's fans... but not ALL the fans of ALL your articles... just THAT specific article. (Yes one admin page for each button... may they never meet DaveN;)

But, if you want to stay in touch with ALL the fans of your site, then the 'website' meta tag is in order, because what you really seek is 'popularity' and a 'following' or 'friends'. If you use this tag everyone will like the same url, and the admin can admin all fans, all in one spot. (Of course if you locked yourself out of the root domain, like me, then it wouldn't surprising that when they 'fix' that issue, that they also delete everything else in the process. So don't blame me if article count one day goes to zero... Who knows?)

But what's up with all this mutual exclusive 'Like' buttons? Most content rich sites should have BOTH on each page, imo. One that is maybe in the header and footer, that signifies to the public that by clicking the like button you are becoming a FAN of the site, and another one associated with the *item* on the page. And right now, I don't think that is possible without getting tricky with code and maybe some kind or merging of pages.

I don't know... I'm sure they got some folks working on a solution. I'm afraid we just need to give them some time.

freejung




msg:4194294
 4:47 am on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

SNAFU, IMHO.

It's even weirder than that. From the beginning, I had an app ID on all my pages. So presumably that app should have admin access. I also put my user ID on my homepage, so I could access insights for the domain, which I can.

The homepage has a "page" and I can see the admin page for it, but not edit it.

I don't know what I can do with the app, but I suspect you're right, that it will not have admin rights. We'll see.

I suspect they will have to institute some sort of re-authentication process by which you can reclaim ownership of your open graph objects.

As for the difference between "liking" a specific piece of content vs. "liking" the whole website vs. "sharing" a piece of content vs. being a "fan" of a particular Facebook page -- yeah, that's all messed up. They have failed to clearly define their terms, switched terminology in mid-stream, and created an unholy mess.

I bet the whole system will have to be revamped.

freejung




msg:4194309
 6:21 am on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hey, dogboy, try this: like your own homepage. Then go to your profile and look at your likes. Is your page listed there? What happens if you click on it?

In my case, I get to an admin page which is not listed on my "manage pages" list, but I can apparently post photo albums, status updates etc. I'm not sure anybody is seeing them, but I seem to be able to post them.

leadegroot




msg:4194496
 1:23 pm on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

I found this page:
[facebook.com...]
Click on "Insights for your domain" and you get a drop down that claims it will let you associate a site with an ID.

For local technical reasons, I haven't been able to try it yet, but it might be a way to fix it at the backend!

dogboy




msg:4194497
 1:33 pm on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yeah, once again you say things that make me think you may be already lost and going to burn more time scratching at the walls of the cell.

The first thing is this 'page' you found off the 'Likes Link' on your profile... is it really a 'page'? or is it an 'app' page? (Check the cat in the url.) Does this admin page have any friends? Or just you? The fan numbers match? Because if you had an admin button for that particular 'Like' button, it should be found under manage pages, and the fan link should go directly to the web page the button is on... not a facebook page. You sure you didn't inadvertently build yourself some other pages you didn't know about? Maybe a wordpress plugin or something you were messing with that started interacting with FB?

Also, just to be clear, 'Insights' has nothing to do with administering a page... although you would think it would be somehow connected. It's yet another slight of hand in the FB UI. Additionally, if you were expecting that everything could be able to be retroactively connected, under one seamless admin panel... once again, it's not.

Speaking of that, I don't ever hear anyone else talking about it, but IMO, the UI in general at FB is the worst of all high traffic sites I frequent. It is the only website I have visited multiple times a day, for years now, and I still have absolutely no idea where to find anything besides what is on the page in front of me. And if I do, it is a completely haphazard convoluted 4 click sequence of events I'd be hard pressed to repeat the next time I wanted to return to that page. Trying to admin your pages, apps, etc., ads, your personal profile, and bouncing back and forth to the developers area, reminds me of Milton Bradley's 'Simon Says' game I had as a kid in the 70s.

For a long time I just tried to tell myself that this interface was built by younger hipper crowd, who just saw things differently than us Gen-Xers, and that they were ushering in a new and superior navigational format over the 5 buttons we had, back in the day. Now I think their UE team just has no experience in building commerce sites, with clearly defined traffic flows, and if they ever tried to actually sell anything besides page views, their bounce and conversion rates would be nauseating, as a result of this aimless navigation format, which encourages confusion and backtracking.

And everything they do seems to be that way, including these plugins. I swear they are so caught up in their world they can not get enough distance to see that while everyone 'Likes' Facebook (because it obviously strikes a social cord which was missing on the web) most of the people *using* FB have no idea what they are doing half the time, and what they are 'liking' about their time spent there is actually being connected to their *friends*... not necessarily FB's UE.

From how I see it, this is the first time they really needed their users to actually 'do' something or we would screw it up. And we screwed it up. And I think if you sampled existing end users, and gave them tasks to complete, they'd also fail to the same degree. And *then* it would be apparent to them that while the people may be happy overall, they are also lost far more often than they ought to be.

And if you think I'm ranting, you are most definitely correct... but if you think I'm exaggerating, let me run you through one of my typical scenarios...

I just got an email saying someone posted on my wall... cool! Let's just go there by adding my username after the '.com/'. Yup. New post on my wall. I read. I reply. Hey, look at Joe, my old buddy, on the left, in the little boxes. Wonder what my friends are up to now... let me click on the 'See All' link... wait, that pops up a little box.... where's the page with all my friend's feeds again? My profile page? Nope, just refreshed me here again. Account? I see 'edit friends'... nope, but I click anyway, since it's related and once there I decide just to plow forward by clicking 'Friends' under 'Lists'... no. How about 'All Connections'? No. 'Find Friends'? Not that one either. I was just there and I found none of my friends there. Wait, I go to top left nav, click the little friend icon... and it tells me I have no new requests. Ok, but I already knew that. Oh there's the 'Find Your Friends' link again... crap. I have lost all my friends.

Ok forget my friends. I'm logged into my account, I've gotten my mail, and now I want to explore Facebook. I keep hearing about big brands having pages, games, groups, videos etc... the whole world is on here, right? Great! Let's explore by going to the home page... I click the big FB logo top left. And guess what? THERE are all my friends! Surprise!

But now I have it in my head I want to really explore FB, so I click on the 'home' link on the top right. It reloads the same page. Why? Because I didn't realize that this 'home' link was linked to the page I was already on. Silly me. 'Home' apparently has two meanings on this site. I went to *my* 'home' instead of *Facebook's* 'home' page. Ok then, let me kill everything after the '.com/' and just get to the root domain so i can start fresh and begin browsing. Wrong. To a logged in user, it is BOTH *your* Facebook home page AND *Facebook's* home page; the page where you see your friends news streams... and companies that can admin their like buttons;)

You see where I'm going with this? It's like the site is constantly and intentionally playing on words. And I can go through *really* basic, common, user flows that are completely screwed up, all day long. Just go try to manage your ads... but don't start by going to that 'Account' button at the top right. Eventually you will find ad settings, but they aren't the ones you want. They have to do with the ads you see, preferences, etc. The easiest way to find the ads are to find a link that says create an ad, click that, and eventually you'll find it.

Developer's forum, same way. The only login area around that doesn't yet have Facebook Connect access. Go figure...

freejung




msg:4194560
 3:32 pm on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

The page is an actual page, not an app page. The fan numbers don't match, but I'm not the only fan, and when someone "likes" my homepage, they get added to the visible fan list.

When I publish to the wall of this page, it shows up in the newsfeed of the fans. I checked. I can also change the profile picture, add photo albums etc.

I don't use WP.

The difference, I think, is that I included the site_name parameter from the beginning. It appears that the only mistake I made was incorrectly using the "website" type for subpages. So at least for the homepage itself, I appear to have admin access, it just doesn't show up on my list of pages to manage. That's odd, but I can live with it.

Added:
However, I agree in general that the like button was poorly planned and executed, very confusing, potentially problematic, and generally half-baked. I think it is quite likely that as it matures, fixes for these issues will be implemented.

dogboy




msg:4194599
 4:29 pm on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

>I appear to have admin access, it just doesn't show up on my list of pages to manage.

wow, good for you! I wish mine did that. Funny how you don't see the admin link either.

I know that it is possible to delete those auto-generated admin only pages. I wonder if by deleting those it also brakes access. In one of my tests in the developers forums I was able to make a button for an 'article' and I didn't see the admin link next to the box either, but I found the page in my list of 'pages' and was able to admin from it. Once that admin page was deleted, however, I lost all access and your little trick didn't work for it.

On my main button that I used across the site, I'm friends with it but it doesn't even show up in my list of likes.... I just see my face when I look at the button, which is how I know I'm somehow connected to it.

dogboy




msg:4194671
 5:57 pm on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

ok, the admin at the other forum posted that they are still looking for a way to regain access, so we'll see...

freejung, I 'liked' your site and it posted a little entry on my way:
'dogboy likes KW1 KW2 KW3 on KW1KW2KW3.' with 2 links both going to your homepage. I checked my like list and you were there. I clicked and went directly to your site.

Then I drilled in and liked a subpage and became the first to like it. It then posted on my wall "dogboy likes IMAGE TITLE." and that was linked to the page.

So I think you are now good as well, although I wonder if you need to 'like' all your subpages in order for you to access them.

freejung




msg:4194711
 7:15 pm on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks for testing! And yes, I think you're right, I don't think I'll have direct access to the subpages unless I "like" them all.

dogboy




msg:4195331
 11:18 pm on Sep 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Wait, I just experienced something odd about your setup....

I use a 'yoono's' Firefox plugin to manage my social profiles. I saw a post you made about an upcoming event in it. Then I went to the news stream (that I see on my personal FB home page) to confirm it was the same ...and your post was NOT there. So maybe it is some kind of funky permissions things I (or you?) have set up and we don't know it (not terribly likely, but maybe) ...or something still isn't exactly right.

Additionally, the name of your site in the yoono app had a header link back to (I presume) something... but now it refreshes very quickly and then then lands me back on my 'home' page. 404?

The bottom deep link works and goes to the album, where I posted a comment. Then I went to my 'profile page' and I saw a notation that said, "dogboy commented on ABC's album", where ABC= your site's url (which works)... and the 'album' anchor link is hot (and works) as well.

However, a mouseover the site's title on my FB profile page shows an image and says that only 56 people that like your site. (When I visit the site, the counter is at 110.) Not sure if there is supposed to be a lag between the two or not, but again it's possible(?) Maybe just a little unsettling at first(?)

Anyway, I find it funny that I need yoono to see your post and yet I see I commented on your album on my profile page. It's like privacy on it's head... I dont actually get any information, but it's posted about me on my profile:)

Anything here ring a bell for you?

freejung




msg:4195711
 6:25 pm on Sep 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure what's going on with that, but it does seem weird.

I have another profile I can use for testing and the update showed up in the newsfeed there.

I think in a lot of cases Facebook doesn't show you all of the information that exists, only what it thinks you want to see.

However, it also sounds like something is still messed up. I'll have to fiddle around with it and see if I can figure it out (more scratching at the walls of the cell?). The count is definitely off, and I have no idea why.

freejung




msg:4196259
 8:35 pm on Sep 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Interesting update: it appears that, subsequent to fixing the og_type meta on my internal pages, all of the like counts on all of my pages have gone to 0 except the pages that I have personally "liked."

Once I "like" a page, the count goes back to what it was.

So now, apparently, I have to go through and "like" every single page on my site. *sigh*

dogboy




msg:4204526
 12:12 am on Sep 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

ok, I just got an email to my yahoo account (from Facebook) with stats and a link to my admin panel ...as well as access to a new admin page through my personal profile.

I haven't yet seen anything in the developer's forum, besides a link to a bug report with over a 100 reports this morning, so I think they might be rolling this out as I speak(?)

Bad news is I dont think the first people who 'Liked' it are there, because I don't see my girl on the list on my admin page, and the count is way off, and I know she 'Liked' that page. So I got her to unlike and then like the page... but still no show on the page.

Maybe this is why they didn't announce it yet(?) but at least I see they are making progress...

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