Facebook’s developer forum was kept busy overnight by members who were wondering what happened to the custom FBML landing tabs they’d set up for their Facebook Pages. The option to choose any landing tab besides Wall and Info had suddenly disappeared – for all but the very largest Facebook Pages set up by big business. Then came word of a Facebook policy change:
We apologize for not messaging this earlier. Facebook recently made a change requiring that Pages be authenticated before enabling the ability to set a landing tab beyond Wall or Info. To be eligible for authentication, a Page must have greater than 10k fans or the Page admin must work with their ads account manager. If you are already working with an account representative, please contact that representative to begin the authentication process. If you do not work with an account representative, you can use this contact form to inquire about working with an account representative.
Also, for advertisers who don’t have a representative or 10k fans, and want to run ads and land users on a specific tab, you can still do so with standard Facebook ads by making their Destination URL as the URL incl. your tab. Unfortunately, this currently will not work with "Fan" ads.
Facebook Development Network Team
Effectively, the policy change meant that only “authenticated” Facebook Pages – those organizations with more than 10,000 fans (or, as one forum member learned, those who purchased Facebook advertising in the range of $10,000+) – would now be eligible to use custom landing tabs.
Within hours, however, the policy was reversed just as quickly and silently as it was put into place, as Nick O’Neill of AllFacebook.com explains:
Less than 24 hours after we first covered Facebook’s decision to limit landing tabs within Facebook Pages to “authenticated” admins, the company has appeared to revert back to the original permissions, making landing tabs available for anybody. The change was rapidly criticized by more Page administrators who use landing tabs as an easy way to convert new visitors into fans....
For Facebook to make such a significant change without any formal notice, aside from an update to the developer forum, is pretty significant. At this point Facebook appears to have gone back to the original settings... however we’ll have to wait to hear back from Facebook to confirm that this change is permanent.
As a number of the commenters on Nick’s post point out, this event – even in light of Facebook’s new commitment to improving the platform experience and policy transparency – is bound to shake confidence: “What are they going to throw at us next?”
For small non profit organizations that have invested considerable time and resources into creating an effective Facebook Page to attract and interact with fans online, this issue may be seen as another reminder not to put all your social networking eggs in one basket – and to keep your homebase on a website that you control, rather than making any third-party network the hub of your group's online outreach.
(20-05-2010 / 23:00 ET)
Facebook came out with an apology today, in the form of another post on the developer forums, a few hours later, again from Matt Trainer of the Facebook Development Network Team:
As of last night, we've removed the recently-added authentication
requirement for setting custom landing tabs on Pages. The requirement
was instituted as part of a Pages quality initiative, and we apologize
for the inconvenience this caused to our developer and business
community. We are re-investigating the situation, and will not make any
further changes without first giving our community standard notice and
So, there you have it. Still no word on whether custom landing tabs will be taken away from smaller Facebook Pages again in future, but at least there's an assurance that there will be "standard notice and lead-time" if so.
Will last night's custom tabs debacle and/or today's apology, influence how your nonprofit might plan to use Facebook in future?