Social networks and referrer URLs

Pretty much every social network out there is building a custom front page for each user.  Such front pages are customized with preferences and previous activity of the user.  This is an excellent functionality.  But one thing such approach often breaks is a referral URL.  Have a look at something I saw in my statistics today morning (click for larger version).

This tells me that someone somewhere on Facebook linked to one of my posts.  I know which post was linked to.  But I have no way to figure out where exactly on Facebook the link is.  I’d like to do so very much – I’m interested to see the discussion and context in which my post came up.  I’ve tried Googling for the post, but that didn’t help.  I examined logs of my web server and that didn’t help either.  I think that’s broken.

And just to be clear, this problem is not specific to Facebook.  I’ve had similar issues with Twitter and other social networks.  Some of them make the discovery job easier than others.  But all of them don’t make the source obvious.  And I think they should.

2 thoughts on “Social networks and referrer URLs”


    1. It should still tell me which page referenced the site. Whether I have access to it or not is another story. First of all, I can build stats for different sources -- without even having access to those pages. Secondly, my access to specific pages at Facebook can change over time. If I don’t have the data now, I won’t have it in the future, even if I get myself access at a later stage.

      Referrers are important for the web ecosystem. The only time when they have a reason to be absent is HTTPS. For the rest -- they should be there. I think.

Leave a Comment