I’m not sure how long users have been able to edit the titles and descriptions of news posts shared by friends, but people should be aware – especially marketers.
Here are a few things I really shouldn’t be able to do, yet inexplicably, Facebook allows me to:
Change the Title of a News Article
I can change the title when I reshare a friend’s link, attributing the weird title (which I could have really gone crazy with) to Huffington Post and the share/read to my friend. I could have said my friend had been reading about something really embarrassing, but I was trying not to be a jerk. Until I tried again on someone else.
Change the Title & Description While Attributing Fake News to a Real Publication
The publications that allow you to change the description are even more fun.
Just like that, it looks like my friend has been written up by Yahoo News for being knighted by the Queen herself. It’s all in fun and games, but imagine if I’d changed the Yahoo title and description to reflect a made up natural disaster or terror attack? My friends could all share it. They wouldn’t be able to click through to anything, but the title would grab some attention. Not so funny anymore.
Attribute Fake News to a Business Page
In this next example, I change the title of a news article shared by a business page. I could make it look like a competitor shared something like porn or worse… use your imagination. People aren’t likely to click the link, but they’ll sure read the title and see who “shared” it first.
Be Awesome. Or Be a Jerk. It’s Up To You
It’s a little nuts that anyone can edit a title or description simply by clicking on and still show that content with a major publisher’s logo and URL. That’s how things like this happen:
Quick Steps to Causing Havoc
Click the 'share button' under a story appearing in your news feed to re-share the link a friend has already posted. Hover over the headline or description in the dialog box. If either highlight yellow when you mouseover them, then those sections are editable.
Then simply click the yellow highlight to edit and start editting in the text fields that appear.
Hat tip to Malcolm Coles for discovering this mischief.