Yup. Shenanigans on that Milwaukee Journal Sentinel title were added on the facebook side.

Update III

I now feel like an idiot. It is incredibly easy to update titles of other people’s content on facebook. This seems to have nothing to do with whether anybody published something as “untitled” first.

I did this just now:



So, I thought I knew facebook. I mean reeeeally. I did think I knew it. I did not. It makes sense since facebook is constantly changing how it does things (reset all the privacy settings! jumble the timeline!). From here on out I’ll just assume that what the boundaries were on facebook yesterday may not be there today and I’ll be the wiser for it. It’s a crazy-making platform.

Here’s a brief video on how to do this glorious title update thing which was uploaded to YouTube in March. Note that the videographer is also surprised she didn’t know about it. It seems that almost all of my facebook pals were ignorant of this nifty feature (bug) as well.


Update II:

Confirming facebook-side shenanigans is this: a facebook user tells me he was able to slap this title on the same article while he shared it from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

2nd title alteration

Update: A social media pro who I trust has access to a web site and he went ahead and tested it out. He published an untitled post and found that he was able to add a title to that post from facebook.

I tried it and could not replicate those results. Instead, the post defaulted to my blog title “blue cheddar”. But I realize there can be differences in set-up to attribute that to.

So. I don’t have time to do a rigorous test on this but in the interests of expediency and fairness, I’ll put this out there: It seems possible for a person to publish an article or post to the web with zero title and it seems possible for somebody else to then share that post to facebook and to affix any old title to it. The resulting share and title will look exactly like it emanated from the publisher.

My mind is officially blown that there is this much room for shenanigans in the share function.


I’m now publishing a blog post without a title to see if I can change it from the facebook side.

(Seems inconceivable to me, but …)

I do this because Sharif Durhams, the social media editor for M.J.Sentinel, says that it could explain why an article showed up with this title on facebook:

close crop omg and the democrats

See it for yourself at my facebook wall and/or read the blog post I did about this.

Durhams wrote the following in an email to Jim Romenesko who published a post on this title gaff:

“There’s another possibility: The first time we published the story yesterday, it didn’t have a headline. We fixed that quickly, but that might have given an outsider the opportunity to tell Facebook what the headline should be before we did. We’re still poking around, but in any case, there’s no sign that the rogue headline came from here.”

He had previously told Romenesko that I or somebody else changed the title before posting the article to my wall. That’s just a very odd thing to say. I have no ability to insert a title into an article’s open graph title field and then have facebook pull it up through a share. I don’t get how that would happen.

If you know facebook, you know what I’m talking about.

Anyway – I’ll try to publish this with no title and I’ll see if I can manipulate that on the facebook side.


In case you were interested in reading the actual article, it’s entitled

Race tightens, with Scott Walker, Mary Burke tied among registered voters

and it looks like this when I view it at the newspaper’s site:

Race tightens  with Scott Walker  Mary Burke tied among registered voters


Earlier today this post was entitled, “It seems shenanigans on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel title could have been added on the facebook side”


6 thoughts on “Yup. Shenanigans on that Milwaukee Journal Sentinel title were added on the facebook side.

  1. I am not sure if this is what happened, but it is possible to edit the title and description of an article while you are posting it to Facebook. Here’s what you do: paste the link of an article in you status bar; once the article appears, place cursor over the headline. The headline will turn yellow, and then you can click and edit it.

    • We were actually giving it the benefit of the doubt in our explanation. Yes, anyone can edit any headline and an article can be shared among a small network with that new title. In certain cases, Facebook can cache one of these new titles and make it the default headline for everyone.
      My explanations covered the second scenario, but anyone can make the first scenario happen.

  2. Way to shoot first and ask questions later. Was this such a huge story that you couldn’t make a phone call to the paper before posting your baseless item? Now you’re trying to backpedal when you should be groveling and apologizing.

  3. I have no idea whether your testing will lead to the same result ours does. I don’t know whether WordPress handles Facebook tags the same way our content management system does.
    What I can say is this: There’s no way for anyone in the newsroom to publish a Facebook tag without leaving a record of it. That headline isn’t in our records, so we didn’t create that headline.
    For some reason (I speculated on possibilities in my exchange with Romenesko) Facebook cached a different headline for at least one or two shares of the article.
    It’s worth noting we posted the story on our Facebook wall soon after we posted it on our site. If it had contained that weird headline, we would have heard about it and the commenters would have flooded our wall.

    • OK. I should explain that I basically have a high level of mistrust for your employer based on past (and very recent performance (see recent Dan Bice piece on Judge Randa and Biskupic). I can see that the mistrust threw a shadow over how I looked at this sharing SNAFU. Clouded my judgement. It was unfair. I appreciate you looking into this on your side. I have updated this blog in a couple of areas, sent some emails to the right folks, alerted friends.

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