Blog    Tutorials    Old Articles    About Me

ALAN ZISMAN ON TECHNOLOGY

This Content Isn't Available Right Now...  
 
By Alan Zisman 2023-03-16



Scrolling through your Facebook feed, you may have seen something like this:

Content Not Available

I saw it this morning on a post from 'GR' in Facebook's Labour History & Music group - but you could see it anywhere, including a post from a friend showing up in your feed.

What makes it trickly is that when the person who posted - in this case 'GR' looks at their post, they will see the content. So they won't be aware that there is a problem unless someone comments on their post, pointing it out to them. (I try to take a screen shot and include it in my comment so that the person who made the post will know what the rest of us are seeing).

What's going on here isn't exactly clear - and can have a couple of different causes. In the error message, Facebook makes it seem like it may be a temporary problem - "the content isn't available right now". They go on to explain that "...the owner only shared it with a small group of people, changed who can see it or it's been deleted."

All true, but not necessarily helpful - in part because few of us pay much attention to how we set our posts to be shared and partly because, if we share someone else's post we have no way of telling how that other person set their post to be shared.

Every post on Facebook has - behind the scenes - settings telling who can view the post: Public (i.e. everybody), Friends, or some more limited group of people.

When I start to make a new post on Facebook, I see something like this - at least when I'm in a web browser on a computer. If you're accessing Facebook on a phone or tablet it may look different:

Create Post

Most often, we just type what we want to say, maybe add a photo and press Enter or click the Post button. But pay a bit of attention to the little button under my name. (I've circled it in red). Right now, it says Friends - which is what I set as the default in my Facebook settings.

That means that my post will be visible to people who are my Facebook friends (though given Facebook's Top Stories algorithm, there's no guarantee that all my friends will see it - but that's a different issue). It won't be visible to anyone who isn't one of my FB friends.

And that means that if you share my post using the Like/Comment/Share buttons that may or may not appear at the bottom of the post....
Share etc
... your shared post will be visible to anyone who's my Facebook friend - but not to all those people who are your Facebook friends but not mine.

Instead, all those other people will see the 'Content Not Available' message shown at the beginning of this article.

The problem when you're sharing my post is that you don't get any indication of who was my target audience.

You can change the target audience of your posts - though that won't make any difference if you're sharing someone else's post. You can change the default setting for all your posts in your Facebook settings - which can be useful if you don't want your posts to be visible to 'random strangers' who may be looking to clone your account or pretend to be you. (Note that if you do this, it will change your default setting for future posts - but won't change the settings of things you've posted in the past).

Perhaps easier, though, is to do it right from your new post - look back up at the Create Post image up above. Inside my red circle, beside the currently set Friends is a little down-pointing arrow.
downward arrow

If you click on that arrow, you'll see the Post Audience
selection:

Post audience

I can use this to change from my default Friends to Public, or by scrolling down, various other choices:
  • Friends except
  • Specific Friends
  • Only Me
  • Custom
  • Acquaintances
  • Close Friends
If you make any changes from your current default, you get the option to [ x ] Set as default audience

Note that you can go back and do this to something even after you've posted it, but editing your post.

To edit (or delete) a post after you've posted it start by click on the three horizontal dots (circled in blue) in the top-right corner of the post - then picking Edit (or Delete) from the drop-down menu:

Click the 3 dots

If you chose Edit you'll see your post - you can change the text, add a photo, or change the target audience by clicking the little arrow in the box below your name -  just as you could before you initially posted:
Edit post

Click the Save
button when you're done.

If you're sharing someone else's post, if it was set as Public then your reposting will be visible to anyone according to your settings (Friends, Public, etc). If however, the original post was only visible to Friends of the person who originally posted it, many of your friends may not be able to view it - even though you can. If you get informed about this sort of problem with something you've posted, there are some things you can do.
  • You could contact the original poster asking them to make their post Public rather than Friends-only. If they change the setting on their post, like magic, your post will become visible to more people.
  • You could copy the text and photos from their post and paste it into your new post, rather than using the Share button. If you do that, you may want to credit them.
  • If their post links to a web-page outside of Facebook, click on the link in their post to open that web-page. Then in your web browser, highlight the address in your browser's address bar and copy it to the 'clipboard' (Press Control+C on a Windows or Linux or Chromebook, Command+C on a Mac; doable but more awkward on a phone or tablet). Then paste the address in your Facebook post (Press Control+V or Command+V; find out how to do it on your phone or tablet).When you do this, the settings of the original post won't matter!
I let GR know about the problem with his post in Facebook's Labour History & Music group. Initially, he was puzzled and tried posting it again - with the same results. Eventually, he went back and changed the Post Audience settings of his post(s) from Friends to Public. And - like magic - the content of those posts were now visible to people like me.

Older blog postings....


About This Blog...

I've been writing about computers, software, Internet and the rest of technology since 1992, including a 17 year (1995-2012) stint as 'High Tech Office' columnist for Business in Vancouver. This blog includes thoughts on technology, society, and anything else that might interest me. Comments, emailed to alan@zisman.ca are welcome - and may be published in whole or part. You can follow me on Twitter or Google + for notice of new blog postings.
.