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Facebook removing “via” attribution for third-party apps

via the guardianHeads up, marketers: The way Facebook handles third-party apps has changed, but it may be for the better. Stories published on official pages will no longer have the currently subtle attribution linking out to apps like Hootsuite and Seesmic. It’s a small change, but it might mean more clicks for your business.

According to Inside Facebook, Facebook revealed the plan to developers in its Preferred Marketing Developer program today, effectively eliminating the “via” language from feed stories on product and fan pages. Stories posted on user feeds won’t see the shift.

There has been considerable debate as to how Facebook handles stories posted to the Timeline from third party applications. While apps like Hootsuite offer powerful features like cross-platform scheduled posting and analytics, some marketing firms have come to believe Facebook penalizes stories not linked from within the site. Marketing software company HubSpot conducted an unscientific study last year that showed content published using third-party API tools received 67 percent fewer Likes and 60 percent fewer clicks. At the time, it came to light that a bug in Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm gave privilege to content created on Facebook.com. EdgeRank Checker reportedly fixed the problem, but some marketers are still cautious.

However, the move presents its own challenges: Third-party developers may feel slighted by the loss in brand recognition attribution was giving them.

While it remains unclear just how users interact with content published to Facebook from outside apps, the hope is that marketers will see an even level of engagement with their content as when they post directly from Facebook.com. After all, more engagement means more money.