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Facebook Instant Articles: Troubleshooting, Debugging, and Tokens

Facebook Instant Articles are a great Facebook feature, but sometimes there can be issues that need to be addressed. In this post, we'll be looking at a few of the most common, including:

  • Resolving Facebook Instant Articles errors
  • Resolving Facebook expired token notifications
  • Resolving any setup issue regarding Facebook Instant Articles

    Instant Articles Configuration Dashboard

    We have recently introduced a way to get a quick snapshot into the health of your Instant Articles setup. You can quickly access this by appending /core/instant_articles/debug to your site's URL.

    The URL will take you to the configuration dashboard where you can see various pieces of information about your setup. Check out the screenshot below for an example:

    The dashboard will show you if a setting is enabled or disabled, and will return some API information to understand if the calls are being done correctly.

    • Is FB IA Enabled?: This should be set to "Yes." If it isn't, it can be changed using the Global Settings page in Layout & Design Tool.
    • Take Live Instant Articles?: This should be set to "Yes." If it isn't, it can be changed using the Global Settings page in Layout & Design Tool.
    • Is Facebook Page ID Configured?: This should be set to "Yes." If it isn't, you can add your Facebook Page ID using the Global Settings page in Layout & Design Tool. The token can be found by pasting in your Facebook Page's URL here.
    • Is Facebook Page Token Configured?: This should be set to "Yes." If it isn't, you can add your Facebook Page ID using the Global Settings page in Layout & Design Tool. The token can be found in your Facebook Instant Articles app.
    • Is FB Page Allowed to Send FB IA?: This should be set to "Yes." If it isn't, you can add your Facebook Page ID using the Global Settings page in Layout & Design Tool.
    • FB IA Approved Status?: This should be set to "Yes." If it isn't, you can add your Facebook Page ID using the Global Settings page in Layout & Design Tool.
    • Token Debug:
      • Scopes: public_profile
      • User ID: xxx
        • This displays the ID of the user who connected the Facebook token.
      • Profile_id ID: xxx
        • This displays the ID of the Facebook Page that you're connected to.
      • App ID: xxx
        • This indicates the Facebook Instant Articles app ID, which is the app where you configure your Audience Network, set up the platform, etc.
      • Expires At: 0
        • This will always be set to "0," so it should never have a different value.
      • Is Valid: Yes
        • This should always be set to "Yes." If it's set to "No," it means that the token should be renewed.
      • Token Type: PAGE
        • This indicates the type of Facebook profile you're connecting to through the API. It will always be a page for RebelMouse clients.
      • Issued At: 1970-01-01T00:00:00
        • This comes directly from the Facebook API (and hasn't always been completely reliable).
      • Data Access Expires At: 2020-11-15T10:25:16
        • Our tokens won't expire, so this data will be auto-renewed.
      • Granular Scopes: [{u'scope': u'pages_manage_instant_articles', u'target_ids': [u'117395078867261']}, {u'scope': u'pages_show_list', u'target_ids': [u'117395078867261']}, {u'scope': u'pages_read_engagement', u'target_ids': [u'117395078867261']}, {u'scope': u'pages_manage_metadata', u'target_ids': [u'117395078867261']}, {u'scope': u'pages_read_user_content', u'target_ids': [u'117395078867261']}, {u'scope': u'pages_manage_ads', u'target_ids': [u'117395078867261']}]
        • This is one of the most important items of the debugger. Once all of the other items above are configured correctly, we need to make sure the target IDs in these permissions are never set to "0." Facebook changed how this works, and now you can revoke just certain permission per Facebook Page. So even if a token is valid, you may have revoked one of the key permissions.

    Since this is all about Facebook Instant Articles, one of the key permissions is pages_manage_instant_articles. So under Profile_id ID, you should see the page ID of your Facebook Page. If you do not see it, this means you may not have the necessary permissions and this could cause issues.

    It's easy to check which Facebook Page ID the current configuration belongs to. Enter the ID in the following URL (https://www.facebook.com/[ID]), and you should be redirected to the Facebook Page that is connected to the token.

    For reference, this is how a healthy token should look like (with specific IDs redacted for privacy reasons):

    Facebook Token Expiration Emails

    We've implemented a feature where we send out emails regarding expired Facebook tokens and Facebook Instant Articles issues to a respective site's admins. Emails are sent out every time an article with an issue is updated, and they should not be ignored.

    Here's a sample email:

    How to Resolve an Expired Token

    There are several steps to take to renew an expired token, which we will outline below. If you need help from the RebelMouse team to get through these, please contact us at support@rebelmouse.com.

    1) Open up a new post and check either the Social Scheduling or Discovery tab in the right-hand navigation menu for a yellow warning indicating that you need to renew your Facebook token:

    2) If the yellow warning is not present, you can manually delete the token using the Global Settings page in Layout & Design Tool. This is key to reconnecting Facebook properly if the warning isn't there. (Don't forget to click Save after you delete it!). Here's a screenshot of where you can find this:

    3) Once the token is deleted, you will see the yellow warning in Entry Editor as mentioned above, and can continue with the remaining steps.

    A potential extra step is to also check in your Discovery dashboard, which is found in the hamburger menu (☰). If you have not used our Discovery tool for a long time, you may get a Facebook token renewal email notification. In this case, you should also disconnect your Facebook Page from the Discovery dashboard.

    4) The next steps are the actual renewal of the token, and this can be performed in three different ways, each of increasing complexity. As a reminder, this is when you click the yellow warning in Entry Editor.

    Easy Option:

    Simply click Continue as [your name here] and that's it. You're done!

    Medium Option:

    This is for users that manage multiple Facebook Pages. In this case, you need to specify which page you are actively trying to renew.

    1) From the pop-up window pictured in the screenshot above, select Edit Settings.

    2) Check the boxes of the Page(s) you want to connect to RebelMouse.

    3) Click Next and that will finalize the process.

    Difficult Option:

    This is a rare situation that occurs when Facebook requires you to remove RebelMouse from the list of agents using the API to connect to your Facebook Page, and then you have to add it back from scratch (using the first option (Easy Option) in this tutorial).

    If this step is necessary, you will be prompted to check your Business Integrations settings:

    You will have to check the box that says RebelMouse and then click Remove. When you are prompted again, make sure that neither of the two boxes are checked.

    Once you click the final Remove, you will be able to connect the token normally from Entry Editor using the Easy option outlined above.

    For any of these options, it's very important to ensure that all the following permissions are enabled when connecting the token:

    Facebook Instant Articles Errors and Resolutions

    If we determine that there are any errors in your Instant Articles, we will flag these in Entry Editor. If you open the Distribution tab in the right-hand navigation menu, you will be able to see if you have any errors.

    If you see any of the following errors, please contact your account manager or support@rebelmouse.com for help with fixing them.

    If you see the warnings, but you're not actually using Instant Articles, you can simply turn them off using the Global Settings page in Layout & Design Tool:

    Simply update each of the settings shown above to be "No," and then Save your settings.

    If you see an error for an unclaimed URL, you will need to update your Facebook settings to claim the URL.

    Here's where to add your URL in Facebook's configuration:

    If, while claiming a URL, you see a minimal readership error, it means that you do not have sufficient traffic to gain access to Instant Articles. The guidelines are not crystal clear, but we estimate that you need to send traffic from Facebook to your site for about 10 days. Daily visits from Facebook traffic should be at least 1,500. This means that you need to have 1,500 views per day on your website for 10–12 days in a row to clear their minimum readership requirements.

    If you have any questions about these steps, please feel free to contact your account manager or support@rebelmouse.com — we're always happy to help!

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