In the current version of its design, Facebook has a new feature that gives you more control over the image thumbnails for shared links. You can change or add a new image that displays with a shared link. You can also add more than one (up to a total of five).
Here’s a quick guide on how to use it.
You start with the way you’d usually start: by pasting the URL of the link you want to share in the usual spot, where it says “Write something.”
It should then generate a preview. Ideally, it should already have a default image displaying if the webmaster has their site set up properly to accommodate that. Some sites don’t, so you might end up without out an image. But that’s not a problem–you can add one.
Under the link preview you’ll have a section at the bottom under Available images. This is where you control the thumbnail. Like this:
The image at the left, if there is one, is the default thumbnail. If you click on the plus sign, you can select a new image to upload.
Once you do that, the layout of the preview will change. The thumbnails will be larger squares (300px by 300px) and it’ll cannibalize some of the section where the text was. It will also automatically create a carousel where you can click on the arrow at right to move to the next image.
Importantly, each image is its own link back to the URL. So it becomes like a hybrid of a shared link and a small photo gallery.
You can choose up to five thumbnails. They’ll all be added to the carousel.
You can also select and deselect individual images from the filmstrip at the bottom. So if you wanted to change the single thumbnail, you can deselect the default one and select the new one.
UPDATE: At some point by the fall of 2017, the ability to deselect the original image was removed. Now you can use the original image by itself or add more images to it, but you can’t deselect the original one.
You can also drag and drop the thumbnails to change the order.
So in this example of what it looks like when it’s published to the Facebook timeline, I’ve changed the thumbnail from the default one by uploading a new image and retained it as a single thumbnails.
And in this one, I’m using multiple images.
Being able to change or add the shared link thumbnail is nice, but being able to add multiple images, each one automatically making its own link back to the shared link, is an especially welcome feature.