A recent question from a client relating to a broken link to a Facebook page alerted me to an issue that I never have encountered before. Maybe this is known far and wide, and I am just the last to learn. If not, I wanted to share it here as I am sure others have run into — and perhaps have not been successful in fixing — the same problem.
TL;DR version: Don’t limit access to your Facebook page by age, gender or country
This client recently emailed to ask why the link from her organization’s website header to her organization’s Facebook page was “broken.” Not broken in the sense that it didn’t lead anywhere, but broken in the sense that it delivered the user to Facebook’s version of the 404 Not Found error.
I found this odd, as I had not made any edits to the site in a couple of weeks and, as far as I knew, the link had always worked. It had to be a problem with Facebook itself, right? Perhaps her browser settings would not let her access the page, or maybe her corporate network had blocked access to Facebook?
Nope to all of the above, she replied. But, she added, she was able to access the page simply by logging into her personal Facebook account prior to clicking the link in her website’s header. This got me thinking, because Facebook pages are supposed to be (at least partially) accessible to anyone, whether logged into a Facebook account or not.
After some Google searches and testing using various browsers and settings, I finally figured it out. This organization’s Facebook page was set up to only display to those users who identify as living in the United States. Logically, any limits you place on your Facebook page (by age, gender, location, etc.) will prevent anyone not logged into a personal Facebook account meeting these requirements from seeing your page. Instead, the “unapproved” user will see up the image seen at the top of this post.
This makes perfect sense, as logging into a personal Facebook account verifies that the user meets the appropriate requirements for viewing the content. However I had never run across or thought about this issue previously because I am generally always logged into my personal account — as I am sure many, many others are — when creating/testing links to/from Facebook pages.
Further, this issue can arise if you, as the website administrator or editor, do not have admin rights for your clients Facebook pages. If this is the case, you do not necessarily know if a particular page has been set to only show for those above a certain age, or only those living in the United States, etc.
To check to see if a Facebook page’s settings include any limitations, navigate to the page settings area, seen below:
If a Facebook page has content that should not be viewed by those under (or over!) a certain age, please keep the limits in place. Along the same lines, if the Facebook page belongs to an organization or company that only does business in certain countries, please do not remove those limitations.
But if there is not a reason to limit a page’s audience, I recommend making it available to anyone and everyone in an effort to ensure that links from your website or elsewhere to your Facebook page do not appear “broken” to those either not logged into a Facebook account or those who do not meet the page’s viewing requirements.
Like I said earlier, perhaps this issue is prevalent and known by everyone but me. If nothing else, I will consider this post a success if I save just one person some time trying to figure out why the link appears “broken” to a particular user!