• Bryan Hall

World Table Responds to Facebook’s Latest Failure – No longer supporting iOS & Safari in Commenting

Updated: Jul 9, 2019


Tech Giant No Longer Supports Its Own Comment System – Leaving Publishers Flummoxed

PROVO, UTAH — APRIL 24, 2019 — When alerted to a bug in their widely-used comment plugin, Facebook simply stated that they will not release a repair to their system. The bug prohibits all iOS and Safari users from logging in or posting comments from within the embedded plugin on publishers’ websites.

This is a remarkable decision considering that half the newspapers in the U.S. currently use Facebook as their primary comment system.

“Refusing to fix the plugin could have a wide-ranging effect on the media industry,” said Bryan Hall, CEO of World Table. “It’s unclear if Facebook no longer sees their comments plugin as a product worth supporting,” said Hall.

Facebook has recently stopped supporting iOS and Safari in their popular commenting plugin – effectively silencing almost 50% of publisher’s audience.

On March 22, 2019, Dave von Falkenstein, head of Digital Content and Development at GazetteExtra.com in Jainesville, WI, reported the bug on Facebook’s developer page. Soon, other media outlets followed suit, complaining they were having the same problem.

After elevating the issue with the Facebook support team, Spencer Hitchcock, a Facebook team member, reported on April 4 that, “Unfortunately, our team will not be releasing a fix for this behavior,” then proceeded to “close” the support ticket.

Responses ranged from shock to outrage. “You can’t be serious with this reply,” wrote David Dierker, online systems programmer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “You’re just going to drop support of all iOS browsers on iPhone and iPad?.”

Von Falkenstein took to the message boards on TownNews.com, the maker of BLOX — the country’s largest CMS platform for newspapers — explaining the problem and Facebook’s response. Little did he know that the problem goes beyond mobile iOS devices. The bug also affects users of Safari, Apple’s web browser.

TownNews Recommends World Table as Solution to Facebook Failure

Christine Masters, Director of Product Management at TownNews, confirmed that she and others were trying to get clarification from Facebook. She, acknowledged the only interpretation is that Facebook fully understands “ ‘that this basically means the plugin doesn’t work on half of all pages.’ ”

The percentage of customers using iOS or Safari in the network of TownNews customers is 45% (41% iOS and 4% Safari). “That being said,” Masters continued, “we’ve seen a trend among our customers to actually move off of Facebook commenting in recent years, given the often-frustrating relationship between Facebook and the newspaper industry.”

Then Masters did something any startup could only dream of. She specifically recommended World Table over the other three giants in the commenting industry.

“Needless to say, we were thrilled with the unsolicited endorsement,” Hall said, “let’s just say the phones started ringing.”

“This is great timing for us,” Hall continued. “While Facebook is signaling its intentions to move away from newspapers, the World Table’s mission is focused on supporting them. We’ve thrown our hat into the ring to compete with the big dogs and we dare say, with credibility, that we are a newspaper comment system first.”

Industry leaders seeing success using World Table’s approach.

Based in Utah, World Table, is officially registered in Delaware as a Public Benefit Corporation with a publicly stated mission focused on finding ways to support journalism.

“We believe journalism is worth paying for,” Hall said. “This is one of World Table’s guiding principles. We believe profitability and journalistic integrity are not at odds with each other, so everything we do as a business strives to support excellent journalism and its bottom line.”

Compared with better known providers, World Table is a newcomer to the commentary solution space. Nevertheless, the company has raised over $3.5 million to develop their suite of publisher solutions, refining them sufficiently to produce hard data (see case studies) reflecting their success.

Hall believes the composition of World Table’s investors, advisors and designers – experienced in publishing industries – has contributed to the company’s vibrant standing in the marketplace.

Masters isn’t the only mindful person in the industry publicly endorsing World Table. The Salt Lake Tribune, a World Table client, invited Hall to join their publisher, Paul Huntsman, editor, Jennifer Napier-Pearce, and web manager, Kelly Conner, in one of the prestigious Silicon Slopes Town Hall meetings on April 19, 2019, to explain how the Tribune is “Improving Online Comments” using World Table’s innovative solutions platform.

Paul Huntsman, Publisher of the Salt Lake Tribune, had other reasons to make a switch. “The [previous system] wasn’t acceptable and quite frankly it was hurting our brand,” Paul says “and we really wanted to find a different pathway going forward… and that’s when we started looking at World Table.”

Salt Lake Tribune Publisher, Paul Hunstman (right), and World Table CEO, Bryan Hall (left), discuss ways the Tribune has been trying to improve their comment forum at a town hall meeting hosted by Silicon Slopes in Lehi on April 19, 2019. The effort is part of a joint undertaking between the Tribune and World Table. Full video can be found here

After nearly two years of collaboration, the Tribune started using World Table on October 1, 2018. “I’ve definitely seen a big improvement,” said Kelly Cannon, the Tribune’s Online Web Manager. “I used to spend three or four hours every day and now it’s like one.”

“Even since we’ve adopted it I believe it’s gotten even better,” Hunstman said. “The good thing about the software is that they continue to tweak and continue to improve it. So it’s not just going to be the same system going forward. We’re going to continue to improve upon it as time goes on.”

The full video from the Town Hall can be viewed here.

About World Table:

World Table makes online engagement tools for publishers, editors, and journalists specifically in the news industry. World Table has a complete suite of audience engagement tools, including one of the best, easiest-to-use online commenting systems and a highly effective, yet low maintenance moderation system. All our tools are fully integrated with TownNews’ BLOX CMS, and install in a matter of minutes. For more about World Table PBC www.worldtable.co

Contact: Jack Donaldson at media@worldtable.co


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