I’ve noticed something that’s got me wondering. Facebook recently installed frames to links so that when you click on a link that someone has posted on their Facebook stream, it goes to a Facebook-framed page instead of the actual link. Remember the old days when you clicked a link and got a page saying “this site is not Facebook, go at your own risk” and then had to click again to go through?
Facebook did away with that and went directly to framing pages, Digg style, with a nice, neat little toolbar-looking frame. Even Myspace hasn’t stooped to this (yet).
There are three basic reasons this bothers me–and should bother everyone else.. especially other bloggers:
- This steals traffic, links, and content. Because you’re technically still on “Digg.com” or “Facebook.com” when you visit a site in frames, the traffic does not record on the site in question. So instead of the visit getting credited to Rev2.org, it gets credited to Digg.com or to Facebook.com. This applies to links passed around too (i.e. “Rev2.org” becomes “digg.com/d1qiJW” instead.
- This means loss of revenue for you and me. If you aren’t getting the traffic (because of the frame stealing it) and you aren’t getting the link-backs (same reason), you’re losing potential advertising revenue. You’re immediately losing it if your advertising income is based on views. Your losing money over the long run if your advertising sales are based on overall measured site traffic.
- It leads to more use of this abusive phenomenon. Now that Digg apparently is doing well with it, Facebook has gotten into the act. How long before Myspace, Twitter, Google, and the rest jump on this bandwagon? How long after that before popups start appearing? As times get tougher, these sites’ owners are going to get more desperate for income streams…
For a more in-depth look at why this frame spamming is such an issue, read this great post by ToMuse.
Now, when About.com started doing this (they were the first major site to do so, as I recall), many Web bloggers and writers were extremely unhappy and made a lot of complaints. When Digg started doing it not long ago, the uproar was deafening. Facebook, however, has barely generated a bleep on the radar with their implementation.
Good question. First, I think users are getting used to seeing it. Second, I think site owners are starting to get the idea that even the Big Boys aren’t going to respect their property and are now doing something about it (ala the new WordPress frame-breaker plugin). Third, everyone seems too interested in talking about Twitter right now, so maybe the cries of foul are being drowned out by the Twitterverse.
Whatever the reason, I think we’re going to see more of this rather than less. The sites that do this (mostly social networking sites, of course) are obviously getting away with it, so they’ll continue. Others will inevitably join in.
That’s why content publishers like Rev2.org and others need to band together and combat this trend. Frame-breaking is a very good start and should be standard on any site that can do it. If you’re using WordPress, install the WordPress plugin. If not, find some good code to insert to do it for you. This article at flapjacktastic covers that nicely.
As the WordPress plugin site says, “Die, Digg-bar die!“