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Google Analytics showing various domains as medium referral rather than social

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# 1
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A number of clients have seen Facebook (and the various sub-domains such as m., l., lm.) creep up in the acquisition reports with a medium of referral.


I'm at a loss to replicate how this happens. After lots of searching (including these forums here), I've tested the following and I always appear as Facebook / Social rather than / referral.


  • Clicking on the website link on the client's Facebook page
  • Clicking on website links in posts
  • Clicking on website links in private posts or messages

I've tried all the above both on desktop, mobile (browser), and mobile (Facebook App).


Without fail I appear as Facebook / Social in the acquisition reports

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Google Analytics showing various domains as medium referral rather than social

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# 2
Top Contributor

Hi @Maximilian W,


Our agency has seen the same and we have played around with Facebook and was able to replicate the referral traffic from the m. sub-domain but not the other two. We do know that Facebook has a tenancy to port traffic through various servers randomly for testing purposes, during maintenance periods (for batches of accounts, not all), and for different devices, too. When they do this, they will often do it with Apple products but not for Android... then for Android and not for Apple.. then for Windows and not for Android or Apple... and for accounts based on a algorithm that we have a small idea about but nothing of high value.  


We have also heard some discussions that at least some of the sub-domain traffic is from their bots, but cannot say we agree with that statement... yet. The one thing we have come to accept is that no other platform is playing master puppeteer. I think we have come to mostly expect it and accept it, sadly.   


Very interesting topic, Max, so thanks for bringing it up. Keep on testing and please let us know what you discover as time rolls on. 


Kind Regards,



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