Facebook Reinvents the Meta Tag. Evolution? Or just weird mutant?
Okay, this is going to be a little technical, but trust me, it's a good, old man rant… Okay, that might not make it seem that much more attractive, but stay with me for a moment.
Back in the early days of the web, we had something called 'Meta tags' -- these were little bits of code we would put at the top of a web page to tell search engines a little bit about the page. Things like the title, or a few descriptive keywords… They went something like this:
<META name='description' content='a description of your page'>
It was a great idea, until the concept of 'Spamdexing' came along. Spamdexing is when you lie about the contents of your page so that a search engine, like Google, will think your page is all about puppies and unicorns when, in reality, it's about Viagra.
So over time Google and whatever other search engines might exist out there (I'm sure someone uses Bing… not so sure about Yahoo!)… Search engines just plain ignore META tags these days and look at the actual content on your page. If you're selling Viagra, they'll figure it out. (I fully expect this blog to reduce my search engine ranking simply because I keep mentioning Viagra -- it's practically like saying Voldemort).
So, in comes Facebook and the 'Open Graph' tags. Apparently it's a whole new level of evolution, as far from META tags as monkeys are from slime mold (the simians, not the band, as their music wasn't terribly evolved…). An Open Graph tag tells Facebook exactly how to describe your page if someone shares it. And it looks something like this:
<META property='og:description' content='a description of your page'>
Oh, wait… that's just a meta tag with a 'property' rather than a name and an 'og:' so we know it's not that old, antiquated META tag stuff…
So, basically, all we're really doing is new security through obscurity. If you know how to write a meta tag, and you like to sell drugs to men with feelings of inadequacy, why are you going to be any better behaved with this newly improved, quantum leap in page tagging? Keep in mind, quantum spaces are really, really, really tiny, so the leap is going to be measured in less than nanometers…
Oh, well, I guess there are a lot of minor mutations and dead-ends along the road of evolution…