Facebook Sharing Bug Generates Faulty 404 Errors

It’s a minor, but annoying bug. Sporadically, when someone tries to share a Marketing Land or Search Engine Land post on Facebook, the social network displays a 404 error.

It’s not an actual 404 error, mind you. If you click the link, you are taken to a live page with all the great content you’d expect from us. Obviously, no publisher wants to be associated with such error messages.

And ours aren’t the only sites being hit by the bug, which we first noticed several months ago. Here’s how it manifest itself on a post from GameSpot.com today:


And here are a couple unresolved bug reports about the issue at Stackoverflow  and Facebook’s Developers forum.

Our technical team has checked our posts’ OG tags — which Facebook uses to pull in the title, description and thumbnail images for the post — and there’s no difference between posts that display properly and those that don’t. Our working theory is that Facebook’s caching servers are somehow finding an unpublished preview version of occasional posts and storing that.

The workaround, of course, is to run the problematic URL through Facebook’s Open Graph Debugger, a handy tool for anyone troubleshooting issues with sharing on Facebook. Doing that resets the data Facebook uses for sharing display on the post.

We have reached out to Facebook for comment and we’ll update when and if that comes.

Postscript: Facebook has come back to us and says its best guess is that we (and perhaps others) are somehow submitting URLs before they are live to the public:

Marketing Land is likely sending a URL through our system before it’s readable by our systems.

As I wrote above, we’ve checked and can’t find that this is an issue on our end.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Facebook | Facebook: News Feed | Features & Analysis | Top News


About The Author: is Third Door Media's Social Media Correspondent, reporting on the latest news for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. He spent 24 years with the Los Angeles Times, serving as social media and reader engagement editor from 2010-2014. A graduate of UC Irvine and the University of Missouri journalism school, Beck started started his career at the Times as a sportswriter and copy editor. Follow Martin on Twitter (@MartinBeck), Facebook and/or Google+.

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  • Henley Wing

    Check that the canonical URL is up and isn’t broken. FB often crawls the canonical URL not the URL you submitted, in my experience.

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    This sounds not so new since Facebook is known to have glitches especially when they updates their system. Error 404 is described from the link below:


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  • http://www.leadershipthoughts.com/ Martin Webster

    I noticed this on my most recent post: http://www.leadershipthoughts.com/rough-guide-leadership-models/. The only difference I can think of is that I scheduled this post whereas I often publish manually. Your tip to use the object debugger helped … thanks.

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