Yesterday after spending a couple of hours in the backyard for my first real bout of “yard work” for the year, I decided to sit down with the lap top for a bit and catch up on my reading. Once at WordPress, something that’s been annoying me for awhile caught my eye and I decide to take what surely would be “no more than a few minutes” to correct this nagging problem.
My Facebook Like Box wasn’t working. Actually it hasn’t been working consistently for awhile and there it was again, all black and empty with the words “Facebook Public Profile” written in it. No smiling faces of my Facebook followers. No validations of my self worth.
I logged into my Facebook account to check my page and when I went back to WordPress – the box was working. What? After playing with it for 15 minutes I accepted the truth, the Like Box only worked when I was logged into Facebook.
Well that didn’t seem overly convenient to me. Certainly some app developer didn’t intend me to stay logged into Facebook just so their damn Widget would work! Something else must be at the root of the problem; I just had to figure out what. So naturally I did what I’ve advised hundreds of others to do when they’ve come to me with problems like this, “You’re never the first one to encounter a problem”, I’d say. “Google it”. And Google I did.
The first “fix” I came across was a blog post that stated that in order for the Like Box to work, you had to assign your Facebook Page a URL. Ok, that was something I really didn’t want to do. I mean, I guess there was some benefit to having “www.facebook.com/thedogsofbeer” but to be honest it wasn’t something I was overly excited about. A quick look at some of the blogs I read showed a mix. Some had a URL, some were just using the same facebook.com/page/################ type link that I was. But no matter what the format of their links, their Like Boxes seemed to work fine.
Believing that I had once again been bitten by one of those problems that just seem to affect me differently than everyone else, I decided to give the fix a try and I signed up for the URL. Or at least, I tried to. The system said that THEDOGSOFBEER was unavailable.
HUH? Who else would be stupid enough to want that name? But when I feed the address into the address bar, the page came up as non existent. After a few more attempts with a couple of different sensible variations (all of which were dismissed by Facebook), I went to the help page only to find out that some “common” words are automatically dismissed by Facebook. Oh joy, now I have to guess what word(s) some idiot over at Facebook found objectionable.
Finally, after a few more tries with character strings that were getting farther and farther away from the desired THEDOGSOFBEER (and more than a few choice words from me upon each denial); I hit a string that Facebook “allowed me” to take. I bow to your generosity. So with new URL in hand I returned to WordPress, edited the Like Box Widget, replaced the page link with the URL, and….it didn’t work. Well of course it didn’t work. The first fix NEVER works. When I clicked on the box, instead of going to my Facebook Page, it took me to the Facebook Login Page. So I logged back into Facebook, and again the Widget worked fine. Back to Google.
My next search pulled up a less likely, but apparently more common cause. I might have set up country restrictions when I created my Facebook Page. The country restrictions are just that, you can set Facebook up so that someone from Liechtenstein can’t see your page. I guess that’s in case you routinely talk trash about Liechtenstein (wee little country that it is) on your wall. I saw no reason to do it (having no personal issues with Liechtenstein) so found it unlikely that I had set any up when I created the page, but it was a possible fix so back to Facebook I went. And sure enough! I hadn’t set any country restrictions. Of.Course.I.Did.Not.I.♥.Liechtenstein.!.
Starting to get a little more annoyed at this endeavor that had now taken WAY more time than I believe it should have; I contemplated my next move. After all, I HAD to fix the problem. I couldn’t be the blogger that all the other bloggers were laughing at behind his back. “Ed? Yeah, he writes ok. But have you ever noticed that his Like Box doesn’t work? What’s up with that, LOL?” No! I would not be THAT blogger. So I re-engaged the problem with my usual knack of being calm in the face of these kinds of computer issues:
And then suddenly, I saw it. Oh come on!! No. I will kill someone! Being a conscientious guy, when I set up my Facebook Page I set my age restriction to “Alcohol-Related”. After all, the page is about alcohol so what did I care if Facebook blocked all those not of legal drinking age.
That had to be it! So I dropped the age limit to 18, hoping that this would be enough to get passed the system. But no, a click on the Like Box brought me again to the Facebook login screen. Of course, I thought, any restriction on the page would require someone to log into Facebook to be granted access to the page. That would be the only way Facebook would know if they met the age requirements (or any requirements) for that page. This made sense to a degree, if the page content has restrictions then it has restrictions, but couldn’t Facebook have given app developers at least the ability to show the thumbnails of the people who Liked the page, regardless of whether-or-not they could access it from the Like Box without logging in? So I then did what made the least amount of sense; I set my age restrictions to 13+ which is basically “open to everyone” mode. And it worked. My Facebook Like Box was once again filled with smiling faces and when I clicked on it, I was taken right to my page without the need to log in.
Oh it wasn’t perfect. I didn’t have as many faces as I do followers on Facebook, but I’m willing to chalk that up to personal settings on their side. But at least now if you click on the box, you’re taken directly to my Facebook Page. I pride myself on knowing when to walk away from the table and did so, not wishing to press my good fortune further.
So just to recap. The Facebook Like Box wouldn’t work on my alcohol themed WordPress blog because my Facebook Page restrictions told the Box that the page was alcohol related. This is why I hate Facebook. Well this and Timeline. Timeline sucks.
The whole thing probably wouldn’t be hitting me as so strange if Facebook didn’t make such a big deal about changing your age restrictions. Every time you attempt to do so you are sternly warned, “If you change your age restrictions, all people who like the Page that are underage will be removed. Are you sure you want to do this? As a Page admin you are solely responsible for setting the age restrictions appropriately. (emphasis mine)” Well I tried Facebook, but you screwed it up. Now everyone with a fake photo profile picture has access to my site.
Time for another beer….and to revisit my thoughts on moving my Facebook Page to Google+