featured image for tech article about Facebook's API change to their oEmbed Support

Many of us who have been blogging for years are completely used to being able to post a link to a Facebook or Instagram post and it magically appearing.

That is from the oEmbed support from Facebook’s API. The old oEmbed endpoints end October 24, 2020. They have new Facebook oEmbed endpoints. The developer requirements, should you want to create your own app, are in that post.

Keep in mind that when we say “Facebook’s API” this also includes Instagram.

Search Engine Journal noted that the changes are retroactive.

“To be specific, an upcoming API update will remove support for unauthenticated Facebook and Instagram embeds. …The change is retroactive, so all Facebook and Instagram embeds on the sites of unauthenticated publishers will soon become broken. This has the potential to affect millions of sites.” Matt Southern

I will admit it was nice to see something about WordPress Core in SEJ!

Facebook and WordPress

As a result, WordPress Core (the base software not plugins and themes) is ending support for Facebook and Instagram oEmbeds as of WordPress 5.5.2.

I support this decision fully. As I wrote on the Trac ticket 50861:

As a writer and social media manager, who loves and depends upon oEmbeds (rather than screenshots), I completely understand the logic behind removal.

I completely agree this should become plugin-dependent.

Facebook is famous for changing the rules on their playground. And, honestly, APIs be like that sometimes. Right?

So, as far as communicating this to the general public, we should fill in the holes of people’s education.

WordPress 5.5.2 has an important update that affects oEmbeds of Facebook properties. This includes Instagram and Facebook links.

How Does This Affect You?

Previously, any WordPress blogger could simply insert a URL of a Facebook or Instagram post and the image and post would render. Like magic, but definitely technical.

Unfortunately, Facebook has made access to their API a bit more complicated which, cheers to them, helps protect the privacy of its user base.

If you’re worried about this update, check your posts for links that don’t unfurl/render. They will appear as regular links. It isn’t broken, it just doesn’t render. Instead, use the link like you would any link — in a sentence — with accessibility in mind.

You can always include a screenshot with alt tags and a caption as well

Jetpack to the Rescue

Well, it’s no surprise that Jetpack by Automattic finds a reason to be relevant again. They will be supporting oEmbeds from Facebook and Instagram as long as your site is connected to Jetpack.

“Facebook and Instagram are ending support for their oEmbed API on October 24. After this change, you must register a Facebook developer account, create an app, and provide a token when calling the new API. …Simply connect your site to Jetpack and start sharing. We’ll handle everything behind the scenes so you don’t have to worry about it.” Jetpack

But I Want My oEmbeds

If you don’t want to use Jetpack, and I get it, there are other plugins you can use. In the same WordPress Trac thread, Syed Balkhi suggests two of his company’s solutions:

“Just wanted to comment here, since our Smash Balloon Instagram and FB feed plugins are already used by over 1.2 million users, we have added the oEmbed functionality to it.

This was easy for us to do because to create custom feeds, users would have to use the API key anyways. Over the years, our plugin has simplified that process to make it very user friendly.

I think it’d be helpful to recommend these because we DO NOT require users to go through a complicated FB app setup process or anything.

Instagram Feeds – https://wordpress.org/plugins/instagram-feed/
Facebook Feeds – https://wordpress.org/plugins/custom-facebook-feed/

How Else Can I Link to Facebook and Instagram Posts?

The good news is that links are links. As long as the post is public, you can still create a link within the context of a paragraph. People can click the link and go to the post. It’s not that big of a deal. If you really want the visual, then take a screenshot. If you do that, make sure to include alt text and a link to the actual post. It’s a little bit of work, but worth it.

 

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