Displaying a byline in Facebook shares

In an effort to improve a site’s social media postings, I needed to simplify headlines (page titles) while maintaining credit for articles by authors outside the news team.

I fooled around with schema.org itemprop="creator" and HTML5 rel="author", but they were both oriented toward hyperlinks rather than simply saying “here is the name of this article’s author”, which I need for this case.

I noticed that New York Times articles bear their author’s names when posted to Facebook, so I endeavored to work out what Facebook looked at. Interestingly, I found this:

<meta name="byl" content="Fr. John Jillions">

You can see the author attribution on this Facebook post sharing such an article:

Thought I’d share, since I required original research to solve the problem. The only place I saw discussing this was an old 2007 NYT tech blog posting, and that only after I had the solution in place.

Interestingly, I noticed an apparent Facebook A/B test take effect as I worked, changing the appearance of this article (and removing the byline). For a few minutes I didn’t have a way to see this author attribution, then within 5 minutes it was back. Life on the cutting edge.