Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Web Page Doesn’t Look Right in Facebook App? Check Setting to Turn Off Facebook’s In-App Browser, and Use Your Preferred Mobile Device Browser

In August 2018, Facebook modified their app to include an in-app browser that refers you to web pages in their own in-app browser. Many people don't even realize that they're not being sent to their favorite default web browser on their mobile device.

When you use Facebook's app and you view a website that someone shares with you, there is no referral clear and free out of the Facebook app.

With the in-app browser, there's a chance that the web page you are referred to might not look exactly like the web page that you would see in your own default browser on your mobile device, such as Chrome on Android or Safari on a iOS.

In some cases, a reported bug on Android, cuts off a bottom portion of the web page — leaving a black void. We know because we're the publisher and web developer for Arlingtoncardinal.com … and ever since Facebook rolled out the in-app browser feature, Android users viewing articles on Arlingtoncardinal.com have been complaining about seeing a bottom portion of web pages blocked with a black void. The bug apparently did not affect Apple iOS users.

Another disadvantage is that your default (free and separate) browser has features, such as bookmarking, saving to the home screen, and possibly the added security settings or whatever other settings you might prefer with your browser of choice. Many users aren't too happy about being forced to use an in-app browser in any app — Facebook or otherwise.

Sometimes app developers include a little button or link that allows users to break out of the in-app per incident. In other words, each time you visit a web page you have the choice of viewing the web page with the in-app browser, or jump out to your default browser. Facebook does it a little different — in late 2018 and early 2019 anyway.

Facebook gives you a choice by changing settings in the Facebook app so that all links in a Facebook timeline are referred out to your default browser. You can change back to the in-app browser, but it's all-or-none. You either get all your links within the Facebook in-app browser, or all your links referred out to your default mobile browser.

Facebook changes apps without much or any notice, so many Facebook app users probably didn't even realize they were viewing web pages from within the Facebook app. And with Facebook's history of privacy incursions, that might have you wondering whether or not they follow, track and record what websites you visit after you visit the first referral.

+ + + + +

Here's how to turn off Facebook's in-app browser for link referrals (or in other turns turn on your link referrals to your default browser) …

Touch the menu button (hamburger: three horizontal lines in the upper right)

Scroll down and touch App Settings look on the display for "Always open links with external browser" or "Links open externally" option and check the box to activate or slide the slide switch to the ON position.

Exit settings.

+ + + + +

Now when you select a link in your timeline in the Facebook app you will be referred to a web page or website using your default browser.

If you haven't selected a default browser for use from the Facebook app, you might be asked to select the desired external browser when you touch your first link.

You can always reverse the setting if you want to use the in-app browser by going back and unchecking the "Always open links with external browser" option.

NOTE: Facebook changes apps without much notice, so you might need a little creativity to modify the settings using the latest method. But even if these instructions have changed, users should be able to figure it out. If the feature is removed, then that's another story, and a lot of people would be very disappointed with Facebook.

Last check, Apple iOS users have to use a different method. There is not general all-time app setting to refer out to Safari or another browser. Instead on each incident, users have to touch and hold or press and hold on a link to bring up a pop-up menu. That pop-up menu should have the "Open in Safari" command in the list of featured commands. If a user uses Chrome as a default, it is possibly not available as an option in the pop-up menu, because only "Open in Safari" is available. Again, this is subject to change without notice.