Beware the Evil Facebook Query

Like a car going off a cliff, the Facebook fragment can lead your users on a short trip to nowhere.Jeff Stevens recently discovered an odd Internet Explorer / Facebook “Like” bug that appended “?fb_xd_fragment=” to the end of shared articles on someone’s Facebook wall.

The problem was, when links containing that fragment were used, the website would not show anything – zip, zilch, nada – completely blank.

In checking our Google Analytics, we saw ample traffic pointing to users viewing content on our websites with this fragment in the URL.

Solution: .htaccess to the Rescue

Some solutions suggested using javascript to solve the redirect issue, but we like another method: .htaccess.

Since users are visiting your website via a specific URL, you should be able redirect them based on that fact, well before any PHP or Javascript is loaded.

To accomplish this, insert the following 2 lines into your .htaccess file

RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} fb_xd_fragment=
RewriteRule (.*) $1? [R=301,NC,L]

WordPress MultiSite Implementation

For our WordPress MultiSite service, which we configured as sub-domains, we had to modify the RewriteRule just a bit:

RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} fb_xd_fragment=
RewriteRule (.*) http://%{HTTP_HOST}/$1? [R=301,NC,L]

Now the thousands of poor visitors seeing blank websites will be redirected to a normal website.


Photo by Jake Bouma, Flickr.