Facebook and Instagram are making a tech change next month, which you need to plan for now


By Steve Baron • Chief Strategy Officer at Local Media Association

Steve Baron

Steve Baron

During my time leading digital teams at large media companies, we often relied on embedded Facebook and Instagram posts to provide context, visuals, and meaning to content.

From news to sports, viral content to entertainment, grabbing a social post to embed from either Facebook or Instagram was a huge part of our daily editorial workflow.

Change is coming

In October, a significant change is coming, which everyone needs to start thinking about how to manage today.

Facebook and Instagram have historically made users’ public content available for anyone to embed freely and openly.

However, in October, the platforms are making a change that could break many embedded posts already published and limit the ability to publish new ones.

The change is related to a method called oEmbed, which is an open format designed to allow one website to embed content from another site.

Example of an embedded Facebook post

Example of an embedded Facebook post

In late October, Facebook and Instagram will require publishers to authenticate requests to embed content using an access token generated by an app on the Facebook developer platform.  

What to do

Regardless of what content management system your publication uses, this will almost certainly require a change to your site’s code and perhaps to your overall content workflows, including creating an app on the Facebook Developer Platform.

You should start thinking about how to get ahead of this now to avoid showing broken content and errors inside of articles when this change takes effect on October 24, 2020.

As part of this new process, Facebook will monitor the use of embeds and can limit the display of them on your site, explained this way:  “you can safely assume that your (Facebook Developer) app will not reach its limit unless it exhibits bot-like behavior, such as batching thousands of requests, or sending thousands of requests per agent or app user.

The technical documentation is available here and is best suited for a web developer or engineer.  Changes are listed in additional detail in the v8.0 changelog. There’s a way to test the impact of this change on your current implementation as well.

My advice is to get well ahead of this change to avoid any issues when it takes effect and make sure your tech team or CMS partner is aware of and can manage this change, so both historical and new social embeds continue to work.

Changes like these are not routinely made and in the past have caught many publishers by surprise so giving your tech team or vendor a heads-up today may save you some trouble next month when this takes effect.

Looking for more? Reach out to the Local News Resource Center for social media support.