This article explains why Facebook accounts are not correct on some AddThis online sharing widgets, and what you can do about it.
Some Facebook sharing accounts are no longer correct
I use AddThis (a third-party toolbar, which gives customizable sharing options for blog posts and web pages) on several websites I’ve built with Blogger.
Some of these sites include posts that I’m sure have been shared dozens or even hundreds of times on Facebook.
However, recently I noticed that the number of shares in the online share buttons no longer include any value for Facebook – even on posts that have definitely had Facebook actions.
Investigation of the problem
When something like this happens, it’s usually because the third-party site has made a change to its code, and I haven’t installed the new code on my site. So I went back to AddThis, using the code for Blogger-hints-and-tips (because one of the original goals of this website was to be a place to test how things work), and tried a few things:
The bog-wide, user-specific reinstall happens right before the shutdown
Requesting the code for existing online sharing gadgets, and reinstalled (even if it looked the same)
Turn off the existing online sharing gadgets, create some new ones, and install the code for them instead.
Generate in-line shared gadgets with “original” buttons, instead of standard or responsive ones. And here I finally had some success: these buttons show Facebook accounts.
I added the code for a completely different social sharing service, to see if it worked better – it didn’t.
You can (for now anyway) see the results of all these tests at the top of these posts – for those who read this later, after it has been fixed, this is what all the share widgets are now:
The row from the yellow arrow shows the share-gadget made with the original icons, which still shows Facebook accounts.
At this point, I began to suspect that the problem was not with my use of the AddThis code, at least. So I searched the AddThis site, found an email address for their support team and sent them a question.
This morning, they responded:
Facebook has deprecated the endpoint we used to pull actions, so we can’t take the Facebook share accounts now… We are absolutely still committed to providing this service going forward and we have started the migration process that we expect to be completed. 2-3 weeks or less.
“Deprecated” is just a fancy word for “disabled”. In short, Facebook disabled the tool that was used to obtain the count values (maybe with warning, maybe without). AddThis is working on using a different tool but it’s not ready yet.
What can I do now
I have considered these options so far, and will probably apply each of them in at least one of my blogs:
Do nothing and wait for Facebook to fix it. This option is great for blogs that don’t rely on Facebook social proof to give them authority, or those that don’t have many Facebook shares anyway.
Start using a completely different tool (eg ShareThis) – which means a new learning curve, more code to install, and potentially new problems. (for example, with ShareThis, I don’t think it counts any Shares that were made outside the ShareThis tool – so it won’t take your existing posts).
Switch to using an online sharing gadget made with the original buttons: this option gives you much less control over the sharing bar, and it’s ugly. But I’m going to use it on a site where the “social proof” of the Facebook account (ie reassurance that other people have used/shared this post) is important.
I hope AddThis will fix the problem soon, so I can say that this article is outdated!