How to exclude the fbclid parameter from Google Analytics reports?

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What is fbclid and how does it interfere with Google Analytics reports?

The Facebook Click Identifier (fbclid) is used for analyzing outgoing traffic and collecting user data. The click identifier from Google Ads (gclid) is analogous. The main difference is that the fbclid parameter creates difficulties when working with standard reports in Google Analytics.

Though in the official help documentation there is no description of this parameter, most experts agree that Facebook uses it to bypass restrictions on collecting users’ personal information. You can find more details about it in articles on the Naked Security blog by Sophos.

If you hover your cursor over any external link on Facebook, you’ll be able to see an fbclid in the URL address:

fbclid tag in the social network

It’s known that this parameter:

  • is transferred both with advertising links and with all external links from Facebook
  • does not prevent the work of UTM tags

With the appearance of this parameter, standard reports in Google Analytics have deteriorated. Whereas previously there was one line for the page, now there’s also a separate line for the fbclid.

To avoid duplication, it’s necessary to exclude the fbclid parameter in Google Analytics settings (instructions below).

How this parameter looks in a report:

fbclid tag in Google Analytics report

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How to work with data from the previous period

Bad news: It’s impossible to remove a parameter from a previous period in Google Analytics. However, there’s a life hack for working with statistics for previous periods.

To filter all views of one page (with and without an fbclid parameter) from already collected data, we need to use advanced search features.

Site Content report in Google Analytics

Let’s look at how to receive a report on the homepage. We’ll choose “Matching RegExp” and enter the following formula in the search field:

^\/$|^\/\?fbclid

Regular Expressions field

After applying this expression, we can work with those reports from the previous period that we’ve applied this filter to. In the table, there will be lines only for the homepage, and it’s possible to have a look at the general statistics in the first line after table headings.

Note: If you use additional parameters that are displayed in the report, regular expressions will need to be finished under these parameters.

How to clean Google Analytics reports of the fbclid parameter in future sessions

In Google Analytics, it’s possible to disconnect the fbclid parameter manually or automatically.

To remove it manually, go to View Settings in the admin panel:

URL Query Parameters

In the Exclude URL Query Parameters field, write “fbclid.” If the field was already filled, then add a comma followed by “fbclid” after the last value and save the changes. Now the fbclid parameter will not appear in future sessions of this view in reports.

If you use several views, you’ll need to repeat the procedure for each one.

Note: Don’t forget that it’s recommended to make a reserve view without filters and exceptions.

For automating this process, you can also use a Python script by Dmitry Osiyuk that you can download from his blog.

Key takeaways

The fbclid parameter creates difficulties in working with Google Analytics reports by duplicating lines. However, there’s a solution: you can filter parameters when working with historical data and exclude them from future sessions.
If you still have any questions, ask them in the comments below :)

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