Thanks Tips! The Facebook thumbnail fix.

Justin, Leslie, Erica and I run into roadblocks everyday that although seemingly minor and annoying can in reality turn your day upside down for absolutely no reason. In this ongoing series, that we’re creatively calling: “Thanks Tips”, we’re going to share little gems, tricks and “hacks” we’ve come up with that may not save the day but will definitely reduce the amount of swearing going on around your office.

Facebook won’t update the post thumbnail

One word for this: annoying. The fix? Easy.

You can (and should) of course be defining your Open Graph meta data in each of the main elements of your content so it’s properly formatted at all times when shared. Naturally Facebook will try to figure it out but that’s the tiny tot talent time approach, we’re all grown up so we do the right things.

The scenario:

  1. You edit your post and you’re in the final stages of testing for either it’s release or scheduling. You go to Facebook, drop in your fancy link to test and it looks good. Title, Description and Thumbnail image all look perfect.
  2. You go back to your post, make a few final tweaks and decide to change up the image.
  3. You (hopefully) go back to Facebook to test it out and there’s the old thumbnail, hanging around when it’s not wanted. #$!^#$!^%$!

What to do? What a few days before Facebook decides to update it cache of your content? Unacceptable. But there is a neat little trick and it lives at the Facebook Debugger:

If you’re not a developer, don’t be scared. Just copy and paste your URL into the box there and press the happy “debug” button. You’ll see all sorts of magical voodoo language but what will happen is you will force an update of your page in Facebook’s cache.

End result: updated thumbnail image.


Facebook open graph cache thumbnail update



Note: if you’re a “social media guru” (I think I just puked in my mouth a little bit) and you can’t read the results of the Facebook debugger then you should grab a little HTML class and do some reading. We believe it’s important for marketers to understand how these platforms function to some degree, the days of the technically challenged marketer are over.

The analogy? Not understanding how the platform works and being a social marketer is much like saying you’re really good at watching movies, Stephen Spielberg is really good at making movies (that’s an extreme analogy), but you’re probably not very good at making them because you don’t know how to hold a camera let alone create something magical with it.

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19 Responses to “Thanks Tips! The Facebook thumbnail fix.”

  1. Len July 28, 2013 at 11:30 am #

    Thank you so, so, so, so MUCH! I was just about ready to destroy a wall with my face. Deep breaths. Deep breaths..

    • Dan Nedelko July 29, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

      Well, we’re glad you saved your face! :)

  2. Michael Bolé June 6, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

    I tried, it doesn’t seem to work. I put the address you provided in the titlebar on the debug page

    • Dan Nedelko June 16, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

      Hey Michael, not quite sure I understand but I’ll try to help. You need to put the URL you are looking to debug into the object debugger address bar and it will give you the results for that page. Like so:

      Facebook Open Graph Object Debug Tool.

      • Daniel December 30, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

        You may also need to click the “Fetch New Scrape Information” button, if you see one.

  3. C Smith October 2, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    Thanks for the great information. I tried this for the website listed and it still shows the template image the URL is based off of, not any of the images on the final site – can you tell me why and what I can do about it?
    Thanks so much,

  4. Krista October 17, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

    Hi, thanks for all the info. When I go to the debugger tool, the thumbnail description updates. But when I actually go back to the facebook post, nothing has changed!! any suggestions?

  5. Andre October 22, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    Hi there

    Does it really solve the Problem with the thumbnails?
    The problem is, that a change of the content behind such a link (pictures, graphics, video aso) is not updating anymore. I tried it several times but nothing changed. At the moment we try to solve this issue with an alias with our typo3 backend but this is a lot of effort to change it. And this is working al the time.

  6. Kirk January 12, 2015 at 10:26 pm #

    Hey Daniel, I did all this, shows the correct share image in the scrape but FB still shows the old image when I share. Drives me nuts.

    • Dan Nedelko January 12, 2015 at 11:29 pm #

      Hey there Kirk. This shouldn’t be an issue but did you try clearing your own cache? Once the scrape is complete Facebook’s cache *should* be forcibly refreshed, also you may simply need to wait a few minutes.

      One last thing: are you getting any og:thumbnail errors from Facebook? If you accidentally have two og:thumbnails Facebook could be easily confused and will just pick the first of the two listed in your meta-data.

    • justin April 7, 2015 at 4:20 am #

      I’m having the same issue. did you ever figure it out? did it fix itself over time and update to the correct thumbnail when you posted?

      • justin April 7, 2015 at 4:21 am #

        (in response to Kirk)

  7. Anthony January 29, 2015 at 4:57 am #

    This doesn’t work with Youtube Videos.

    The preview shows the correct image, but the preview posted remains as the same stale image from earlier. I think it’s a bug with Facebook

  8. Tran Nam Chung February 1, 2015 at 7:12 am #

    i have the same problem with Kirk.
    i add this in my header.

    When i click on “Fetch New Scrape Information”
    it show the new thumbnail.

    But when i click on “See this in the share dialog.”
    It still show the old image.

    How can i do.

  9. Artemisia Moltabocca February 22, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

    I went to
    I entered my input url of
    Clicked “Fetch new scrape information”
    Shows up perfectly. (screenshot: )

    Cleared my Chrome cache in browser and by using CCleaner.
    Cleared my Facebook history within Facebook.

    Weeks have gone by. Facebook still isn’t updating my thumbnail.


  10. Artemisia Moltabocca February 22, 2015 at 4:57 pm #

    Wait a minute, I figured it out! Clicking that last link brings you to my post. Click on the little uppermost right grey arrow, then click ‘Refresh Attachment’.

    I don’t know WHY I didn’t see this before! Facebook loves keeping things hidden.

  11. Jason March 5, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

    thanks so much for this post. In the case that my edited post has a new url, I wanted to change the linked url as well. Currently, editing the post allows me to edit the displayed url, but not the clickable thumbnail url. Using the debug, neither is fixed

  12. YC July 1, 2015 at 8:10 pm #

    Any pointers for how to get this to work for YouTube thumbnails?

  13. Teresa July 8, 2015 at 5:38 pm #

    I tried doing this as well (genius hack, btw) but I’m trying to share a YouTube video and the issue is that the og:image parameter is still set to the weird automatic video still that YouTube picks instead of the much more flattering still from the video that I later selected as my default thumbnail. Any notion how to force YouTube to update which image is being metatagged as og:image ?

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