Facebook Looking Ever Inward – So Look Elsewhere

Via email yesterday, the following from IFTTT (“if this, then that”, a handy piece of web plumbing that, among other things, helps you route things round the web) announced that it’s no longer possible cross-post content from blogs into Facebook using that service:

This is a result of  a change to the Facebook API, which lets other computers talk to the Facebook machine, that was announced on the Facebook Developer blog in April (New Facebook Platform Product Changes and Policy Updates):


For several years, I’ve been using an IFTTT recipe to forward things from the OUseful.info blog into my Facebook news feed. I don’t personally post things Facebook, and only visit the website when I absolutely have to, for example because bands don’t publish their upcoming live dates announcements anywhere else. But from Facebook emails that keep seeming to slip out despite my repeated attempts to lock down Facebook permissions, I do know that of some the posts are occasionally liked there — so presumably they sometimes appear in other folks’ feeds and get read there.

Henceforth, then, it seems as if the blog posts – including this one – won’t appear in my Facebook feed. And I won’t be going in to Facebook to re-post or otherwise link to them (with the exception I will make for this post).

So if anyone is accustomed to following this blog on Facebook, when Facebook decides they might want to see a post from it and deigns to add it to their feed, they’ll need to find an alternative.

The easiest way is probably email – you can find an “Email Subscription” button in the OUseful.info blog sidebar. One thing to note though – I often update posts significantly in the few minutes after I first post them, so it may be worth clicking through to the blog to see the latest version of a post.

You can also take things into your own hands by using a feed reader and subscribing to the OUseful.info web feed (also referred to as RSS feeds or Atom feeds, or simply just feed). (If you click through, it might look scary computer text. Don’t worry about it – feeds are for machines to read and re-present, not humans.)

In the same way that you follow people on Facebook and see copies of their updates (if Facebook decides that it thinks you might one to see a particular update – you don’t necessarily receive them all…), feed readers let you follow the outputs of a particular blogs or news sources that you subscribe you — and they don’t filter out any of the posts: you get the opportunity to see them all.

(If the full feed output of a source is too much for you, you can often subscribe to tag or category feeds. If you just want to read my ranty exasperated ffs tagged posts, for example, there’s a feed for that: just add /feed to the end of the URL and subscribe to that. For example, https://blog.ouseful.info/category/ffs becomes https://blog.ouseful.info/category/ffs/feed.)

As far as feed readers go, the service I use is feedly. The free tier is capped in terms of how many feeds you can subscribe to (it’s set at 100, I think), but if you’re just getting started with feeds, that shouldn’t present too much of a problem. Another service I’ve used in the past is The Old Reader, with it’s free tier capped to 100 feeds.

If the thought of finding the feed URL from a website concerns you, don’t worry. In some cases there may be a badge on the site that identifies the feed link:

In many cases, a feed reader will also be able to autodiscover the feed URL from a page address (publishers who publish RSS feeds also tend to add some code to each web page that identifies where the feed can be found, and the feed readers can detect this code).

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

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