Where does this ‘Switch’ come from?
With well over 50 Million FaceBook ‘Pages’ there is likely an equal number of Page Admins out there (although unfortunately no exact figures have been released). If you are an admin of a FaceBook page, either your own or a business page, then you have the option to ‘use Facebook’ as that ‘page’ or ‘person’.
If you select to use Facebook as a page admin, you will post as that person or rather page, and your Facebook experience changes, as you now see things ‘through the eyes’ of that person/page. For example, if you post an update to the page timeline while logged in as that page’s admin, it will not only appear on the page’s timeline, but also be pushed out as an update to the pages’ fans. However, if you post an update to the page when you’re logged in as yourself, your update will merely show up on the pages timeline. It will NOT be pushed out as an update to the page’s fans.
But there are other differences too, for example, if I’m signed in to use Facebook as the page admin for my daughter’s school, then I can no longer like articles. While at first this may seem ‘unfair’ or ‘broken’ it actually makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Facebook treats it’s users as people, pages are not people and thus do not have the ‘right’ to like or ‘vote’ – and when you’re signed in as a page admin, Facebook sees you as a ‘page’.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Because page admins CAN like other pages, you just can’t like outside Facebook content, such as articles, that have the facebook share button.
While you can share an update on your page’s timeline by copying and pasting a link to an article, you can NOT click on the common FB ‘Like’ button that many of these articles offer. You have to ‘Switch’.
What the ‘Switch’ means to website owners and developers
This is confusing and not very consistent, but the real problem for publishes is that this ‘Switch’ promt that Facebook pushes out through it’s Open Graph technology, breaks websites all over the web. Countless major websites are effected by this ‘bug’, e.g. Forbes, c|Net, SearchEngine Journal, SlideShare, dot Net Magazine, Tech Radar, Webdesigner Depot, to name just a few!
While for the user the solution is extremely simple – they just need to click on the ‘Switch’ promt – the owners of the websites where this button breaks the content are stuck with a problem. Their content can be obscured or blocked by this ‘Switch’ promt.
The Problem Explained
Like BOX vs Like BUTTON
The ‘Like Box‘ is aimed to help you drive ‘likes’ to your facebook page, while the ‘Like Button‘ is aimed to help you drive ‘likes’ for any other webpage. Facebook provides tools for you to generate snippets for both.
These tools offer you several options, and these options are different for the Box compared to the Button.
In the Like Box you can display your Facebook page’s steam, faces, etc… Clearly, to allow room for this, you need to set a taller height. If you do not set a height, Facebook will use the defaults based on your selections. E.g. if you select ‘Stream’ and ‘Faces’ the default will be 590px height and 300px width. Now, this will look fine if you have allocated that room on your website, but if not, it will interfere with your layout.
If you are logged in as a page admin, the space is still held, yet the button is only 60px x 45px.
The Facebook Like Button tool can also be used to drive likes to your facebook page, but it does not intergrate and pull streams or other likes from your page. This button is simpler and the issues are consequently slightly less daunting. However, if you use the Facebook Like Button HTML5 implementation – which is the first in the snippet option – and your user happens to be logged in as a page admin, the functionality is set to produce the ‘Switch’ promt in – wait – an iFrame. This iFame has a white background and is bigger .
Similarly, if you use the Facebook iFrame code snippet to begin with, Facebook adds a height and width setting, even if you did not set on in your settings. These will now cut off the Switch button display, because Facebook has not allowed for the possibility that users are logged in as page admins and see this button instead of the normal button.
While you will still see the ‘Switch’ promt if you’re logged in to Facebook as a page admin and the website uses Facebooks own generator, avoiding the Facebook integration on your website to break your layout is an easy fix.
We sincerely hope that Facebook will soon change this functionality, because it gives users a poor website experience and developer a headache to fix. Ideally we would like to see Facebook integrate the Switch functionliaty off page in a popup/lightbox. I.e. the like button remains the same, but users who are logged in as page admins, are promted to Switch after they click the button in a popup, and then returned immediately to the page.
[button link="/contact-us" size="large" variation="steelblue" bgColor="#232323" textColor="#ccc" align="left"]Contact Us[/button]If you know HTML – you now have all the knowledge you need to fix this issue on your website. However, if you don’t know HTML, or you’re still confused, or you’re just hoping to have someone else come in and fix this bug for you, then you now know where to find the right experts!