How I Hacked Around Facebook To Save Articles to a Third-Party App

Facebook is trying to lock us in so we only use their app to read articles. That’s not cool.

And open-sourced the solution.

I read a lot of news articles on Facebook, especially on mobile. The pages I like, the people I’m friends with and the algorithm that learns what I like make it an amazing place to find curated news.

I usually do not read them on the fly, but rather save them into Pocket, an article-managing app that allows me to read those articles while offline.

However, when browsing articles on Facebook’s mobile app, it is not possible to easily send them to Pocket. On mobile, you can only save it in Facebook’s “Saved Articles”, share them on your wall, or send it to a friend via Messenger (Facebook’s chat)

Example here with an article from the Pocket page. It is not possible to share the article to a third-party app such as Pocket, or even our mail client.

This is frustrating. Facebook should play fair with third-party apps and improve their “Saved” section if they want us to read it there, rather than locking us into their application.

Born of this frustration is PocketBot: since we can only share articles to a friend on Facebook, I created a Messenger Bot that you can share articles to, and it will save them to Pocket for you (after you log-in to your Pocket account through it)

Demo of how the bot works. He’s like a friend you share your articles with :)

After sharing the link to the bot around, I realised I wasn’t the only one frustrated by this. And some people started using the bot quite a lot.

Users showing some love

Privacy Concerns — Open Sourcing the Code

A few people asked me if I store the articles that are being sent through the bot: I don’t, and I have no plans to do it in the future. The sole purpose of this bot is to get rid of the frustration of not being able to store articles found on Facebook to Pocket.

However, through the Facebook Pages dashboard I can see all the conversations of people with the bot, so technically I could see the articles that you send through the bot.

Looking ahead 👍

You may, or may not care. But I understand that’s something people could be worried about.

That’s why I have open-sourced the code (and the process on how to create your own bot) on Github so you can build your own.

I will keep the current bot running though, so you can use it if you have the same problem and you don’t want to bother setting up your own!

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