When advertisers find positive news articles about their products or services, or content that in some way supports their marketing mission, it’s only natural they want to share the favorable perspective with their followers.
But some advertisers have been taking the process a step further — altering the headlines in link previews used to promote content, in some cases angering publishers that complain that they are changing the meaning of the headlines.
Facebook is now forbidding the practice of rewriting or editing news article headlines, blurbs and descriptions, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the phenomenon, apparently prompting the change in policy.
The move comes not long after Facebook stopped ordinary users from making such changes, as part of its effort to suppress fake news, but allowed paying advertisers to continue to do so.
In some cases, advertisers could reasonably claim their changes had no effect on the actual meaning of headlines, but were simply aiming for brevity or clarity. In others, however, the intent clearly goes further. The WSJ cited one example in which mattress brand Casper upgraded an (already laudatory) headline from Business Insider to include the claim that the company was “revolutionizing the way we sleep.”
Facebook will continue to allow advertisers to edit link previews and headlines appearing in social media that direct readers to their own branded content.
The change in policy represents another bid by Facebook to improve its often strained relationships with publishers. It comes amid a contest with arch rival Google for access to content that drives user engagement and loyalty.
Last month, for example, Facebook said it won’t demand a share of subscription revenues for subs sold on its platform. It has also begun displaying small-publisher logos next to content in its trending and search features to help readers more easily identify news from trustworthy sources.
For its part, Google is preparing to put an end to its “first-click-free” feature, which allowed users to circumvent publishers’ attempts to limit free access to their Web sites by accessing them via search results. Google is working on an online news subscription service allowing publishers to charge readers for content, rivaling Facebook’s system.