Lately, several Android users started reporting a missing setting in the Facebook app, allowing them to open in-app links in an external browser.
For a long, Facebook, like any other app, allowed users to open a web URL on any third-party browser available in the users’ device of their choice. But now, it seems to have silently pulled down that support and forcing users to open links in its in-app browser by default.
Opening Links in Third-party Browsers
As social media platforms are meant to be connecting people, they let users share any media and text in the form of their respective URLs and not just direct uploads.
Facebook is among those and has let users open any shared links on a third-party browser as desired by the users. Users can choose to open the links in an in-app browser or set some third-party browser as default from their device.
But now, it seems to have changed, at least on Android. Several users are seen reporting on Reddit and Twitter about Facebook removing the option to open links in external browsers.
Twittersphere: anyone know how long since @Facebook app removed the ability to open links in an external browser?
— ashkan soltani (@ashk4n) June 23, 2021
This is evident, as Facebook removed the option in Settings > Media and contacts > Browser settings in its Android app.
This makes all Android app users open the shared links only on the Facebook app by default, with no other option left. While the exact reason for this change isn’t known yet, the community thinks it’s because of Google’s new Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) policy.
Under this, Google will replace the traditional third-party cookie system with a new FLoC policy, where it aims to abandon tracking users’ preferences individually.
Rather, Google forms groups of users with similar preferences and gives no clue for advertisers to spot a single user. As this may hurt Facebook’s targeted ads business, the social platform could be forcing users to use its in-app browser to track them easily.