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How to Force Facebook to Refresh Meta Information

Refreshing Facebook meta data for a website
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Have you ever posted a video on Facebook and later decided to change the tags associated with the video? For example, let’s say you post a video from your iPlayerHD account to Facebook. A few weeks later you change the tags (title for example) and you want to also change them (refresh meta information) for the post a few weeks ago. You don’t want to re-share the video for good reasons. Can it be done? The answer is yes.

In today’s post, I’m going to explain how you can force Facebook to refresh the metadata for a web page and video you previously shared. This will work for any type of a web page, be it your blog post or your landing page. For today’s post, I will use an iPlayerHD video page.

What is metadata?

What the heck is metadata on the web and how is it used? Metadata is nothing more than information held by a website, usually in the form of some kind of a meta tag. The most common example of metadata for a website is a short sentence that describes the nature and purpose of the page. Called the “description”, it is used primarily in search engine results.

Example of meta description in Google search results

Metadata is usually not visible to the user on the web page itself. Instead, it’s used by other services to present the information about that web page. In the above example, Google uses the meta description to inform the web page meaning and intent, thus helping the user to decide if he or she should it. Websites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn all use metadata to display the information about a website which is being shared.

What you need to know about the Facebook sharing process

Let’s say you have uploaded a video to our platform and you shared it on Facebook. During the sharing transaction, Facebook scrapes the information from the page and uses it to present the information in your post.

Let’s take my video page as an example: http://iplayerhd.com/player/video/7b7e494e-223f-48ad-ae62-99840218fbac/share

In my example, I have intentionally forgot to set the title I want for the Video page. After I shared it the first time, Facebook scraped it with an unwanted title as shown below.

Facebook sharing screen preview

Where does the title on Facebook post share comes from?

Facebook first checks the metadata set for the page for a tag called og:title (there are many more Open Graph Tags you can use for a page) and if it’s not set, it checks the page title tag.

When I have shared my video page for the first time Facebook, scraped it and then cached the information from the page. Caching means that Facebook stores that information for later use because it helps their platform remain super fast.

So even after you change the title and share your page again, or somebody else shares your page, Facebook will not go to your page again to scrape the information. Instead, it will go to their cache and check to see if they have the information already stored there. This is the reason why the changes you make on your page are not reflected on new shares on Facebook.

The solution to forcing Facebook to refresh the metadata is simple – welcome Facebook Lint Tool

  1. Open the Facebook Lint Tool
  2. Place the url of your page in the input field and click Debug
  3. The tool will report all of the meta information for your page
  4. Click on the button Scrape again
  5. Facebook will clear the cache for the url you placed there and it will re-scrape it immediately
  6. After that you can share your page again and it will show the re-scraped information

Keep in mind that this will work for all of the shares you do after the re-scrape, but it will not change the information on the post which has already been shared. What’s shared once stays written as is.

To return to my example, after I have changed the title for my video via the iPlayerHD platform and followed the six steps written above, I got the new title on my new share for the page.

I hope this post will help you solve your problems with Facebook shares.

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