Monitoring your website’s online presence is a vital part of social media marketing. Thanks to Facebook’s Sharing Debugger, you can see how users interact with posts involving your website. In this article, we’ll discuss scraping on Facebook, the Sharing Debugger itself, as well as some other Developer Tools that can enhance your social media presence.
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What Does the Facebook Sharing Debugger Do?
The online tool from Facebook allows you to see what information shows up alongside links to your website. Using this feature, you can legally and easily scrape information from these posts to better understand how to market your website. The Debugger displays a link to your website as well as some information about the site in the form of a link preview. If any of this information is incorrect or out of date, you can use the Debugger to update the link. The Debugger will force Facebook to check the website for any updates, which will fix any problems with the link. While this can be done for any URL, this kind of information is especially helpful for marketing analysis of businesses and their websites.
The Sharing Debugger tool uses a scraper or “crawler” to collect information from other websites. Using online data to better promote your business has become commonplace in today’s marketing scene. But how do you get data from social media? Acquiring information from websites is known as “scraping.” Scraping is the automated collection of information online often using tools or bots. These bots, or “crawlers,” and they scan websites, collecting information.
While you may be familiar with other forms of digital marketing, crawlers gather data that can be used for market analysis. This information can then be used in a variety of ways, including to better market your business. Facebook’s scraper can also be used to automatically scan websites for their prices in order to price match or so it can be ranked on websites.
Unfortunately, not all scraping is legal or ethical. In 2019, Linkedin lost a lawsuit, setting a precedent that web scraping is legal, but only under certain circumstances. Scraping can be illegal if it is used to collect confidential or copyrighted information. Only data that is available to the public can be scraped. Information that can specifically identify someone is off-limits, as well as other sensitive information.
Not every website is comfortable with outside programs gathering information from their website. For example, Facebook explicitly prohibits crawlers that scan their website for information, unless you have written permission. However, that does not stop Facebook from collecting information on other websites, which is why the Debugger is even possible. But, there are still ways to get data from the social media giant. While some websites offer these crawlers anyway, you can use Facebook’s Developer Tools to collect information while still abiding by the website’s rules.
Among their many tools, Facebook offers users a Debugging program. Knowing who you are advertising to online isn’t enough. You also need to know how your audience views your content. This tool allows users to enter a URL and see what information shows up alongside that link on Facebook.
Updated Link Previews
One of the most useful features of Facebook’s Debugger is its ability to change link previews. Sometimes, the text and images shared in a link preview are not up to date with the website. If your links on Facebook aren’t showing the correct information, you can use the Sharing Debugger to tell Facebook to scrape your website. This is essentially telling it to “double-check” your website for new information. It empties the cache of information it currently has and replaces it with data that is up to date. For example, when you share a link to your website on Facebook, the link should include a small description as well as an image from the website. Sometimes when you change the image, it may not immediately update on Facebook. The same problem can occur with text descriptions that should show up alongside the link.
To fix this, simply enter your URL into the Sharing Debugger which tells Facebook to gather information on the website in question. Then, it displays the data it has on the website. The Debugger should also tell you the last time the website was scraped for data alongside a button that says “scrape again.” If the information in the link preview isn’t correct, clicking the “scrape again” button should update the link by forcing Facebook to retrieve the data again. Since Facebook is collecting data again, the data it collects this time should be up to date.
The Debugger also includes the text used alongside your link as well as descriptions of images. You can even see what previous URLs the website has used. If you register as a Developer through Facebook, you can see some of this information presented in the form of a graph as well as some other, more specific data. This will provide you with a wide array of tools and information you might not have access to otherwise. Ensuring your website’s information is completely up to date is vital for marketing on Facebook.
Technically, you don’t have to be the owner of a website to enter it into the Facebook Sharing Debugger. The information provided is harmless and can be informative for those just beginning a career in marketing or tech. Those interested in tech should know that the application can also display exactly what the crawler “sees” as it scans a website. While this might look undecipherable to many people, it could be very interesting to someone with coding knowledge.
You can’t use every website in the Debugger, though. Since Facebook doesn’t let crawlers scan their website for data, any Facebook URL is off-limits. This includes Facebook.com, Instagram, and Oculus.com. Some websites offer similar tools like the Linkedin Post Inspector which allows you to see how posts will look on the platform. These tools give users an extra sense of control on social media by making sure their posts look exactly how they want them to.
Other Facebook Developer Tools
In addition to the Sharing Debugger, Facebook offers a range of other tools for Developers. Once again, many of these tools require that you register as a Developer if you want all of the information available. Some of these use the same Facebook Crawler as the Debugger in order to scrape websites. One of these is the Batch Invalidator which you can use to invalidate cache entries. This is another way of scraping the website. While the Debugger can only process one website at a time, the Batch Invalidator allows you to put multiple URLs alongside each other and clear multiple caches at once. This clears any information Facebook has on these websites that could potentially be out of date.
There are many other Developer Tools available, like the 3D Validation Tool that lets you test out how your files will display on Facebook before posting. Similarly, the Playable Preview Tool provides you with a preview of how a playable asset for an ad will look. Business tools like Ads Manager and Business Manager allow you to review how you’ve operated as a business on Facebook and Instagram. These can be great for managing how your business is seen on social media by displaying how much interaction you’ve received or promoting posts.
Other tools like the App Ads Helper tell you how well mobile ads are performing on Facebook. While many of these tools focus on promoting your website, these aren’t the only programs available from Facebook. For example, the Certificate Transparency Monitoring tool allows you to log and audit SSL certifications online. SSL certificates document which websites have a Secure Socket Layer, or SSL. An SSL is what makes it possible for online businesses to engage in safe transactions. Some programs, like the Apps Security Checkup can scan for any security issues in any applications you may use or create through Facebook.
Benefits of Facebook Sharing Debugger
It’s important to make sure you’re up to date with what tools are available online. Once you’ve caught up on Facebook’s advertising changes, check out its many Developer Tools to enhance your online experience. Thanks to Facebook’s Sharing Debugger, you can simply enter a website’s URL, click debug and see how users view your content. This tool functions by scraping the website for data. If you are able to register as a developer, you can access even more information. This comes in the form of graphs and access tokens. While scraping can be helpful, users should be sure they are only collecting information legally and ethically. Facebook Developer Tools are great resources for anyone looking to take control of their online presence.
- How do you use Facebook’s Sharing Debugger?
- What is Facebook scraping?
- Is data scraping legal?
- What other developer tools does Facebook have?
- What does the Debugger do?