Facebook prevents broadcasters and publishers’ in-video links

A new example of Facebook moving the goalposts and demonstrating why media organisations need to be wary of an over-reliance on the social media platform.

Posted on 22 June 2016 - opinion
Tibus BY Tibus

Facebook has pulled the plug on one of its features that allowed broadcasters and publishers to include links to their own websites within videos uploaded to the social media platform.

Originally, broadcasters could upload snippets of video content to Facebook, then add a call-to-action to encourage people to click-through to their own website to view more or full content.

But Facebook has now withdrawn that functionality. The BBC, one of the broadcasters who had previously used Facebook video to drive traffic to its own website, has written about the change, which it says it first noticed on June 9. It only received confirmation that this was a deliberate change and not a bug some 12 days later.

A Facebook spokeswoman told the BBC: "After considering a number of factors, we have removed the option to add a CTA to the end of native video.

"We're exploring other ways for partners to achieve similar objectives, and will have an update in the coming months."

Facebook’s walled garden 

At the time that Facebook was brokering deals with publishers to encourage them to add ‘native’ content directly to the social media website, we warned of the dangers this posed. You can read more on our concerns about Facebook’s walled garden by clicking here.

In short, and what we can see afresh from this latest development, broadcasters are effectively putting themselves at the whim of Facebook, which is not necessarily what is best for media organisations or the wider public.

In the case of the removal of Facebook video links, what was beneficial for media organisations was to get their content in front of viewers on Facebook, then direct those people back to their own platform in order to encourage them to consume more content and, in the case of companies that are not public broadcasters, monetise them to generate revenue.

By contrast, what is beneficial for Facebook is to keep its users within the realms of its walled garden. 

Even when you think things are going smoothly, there is nothing to stop Facebook pulling the rug from under you without any notice. Organisations like the BBC can cope with this, but smaller companies might take a big revenue hit as a result of an unexpected change in Facebook policy.

We would reiterate our belief that an over-reliance on Facebook - or any similar platform - should be avoided. By all means use it for promotional purposes, but retain ownership of your valuable content and data at all times.