Upcoming API Change Will Break Facebook and Instagram oEmbed Links Across the Web Beginning October 24

In an extraordinarily inconvenient API change, Facebook and Instagram will be dropping unauthenticated oEmbed support on October 24, breaking content across millions of websites. The change will force users to generate an app ID with a developer account in order to continue embedding links via oEmbed:

Changes to tokenless access for User Picture and FB/IG OEmbed endpoints: By October 24, 2020, developers must leverage a user, app, or client token when querying Graph API for user profile pictures via UID, FB OEmbeds and IG OEmbeds. Developers should provide a user or app token when querying for profile pictures via a UID or ASID, though client tokens are supported as well. Please visit our changelog for User PictureFacebook OEmbed and Instagram OEmbed for details on how to start calling these Graph API endpoints today.

Facebook for Developers blog

In 2008, Leah Culver, one of the collaborators on the oEmbed spec, said it was created to be “an open web API standard for fetching embed code based on a URL.” Requiring authentication in order to use oEmbed links seems like a violation of its intended purpose. For more than a decade, oEmbed has made it possible for users to easily share media across websites and social networks, without having to touch any code. It underpins a flourishing, connected landscape of web sharing that opens up new audiences for posts that might otherwise be buried in a social network’s fast-moving timeline.

In pursuit of a more secure walled garden, Facebook will now require all publishers to obtain developer app credentials in order to embed content that was previously available through simple URLs. Many users will be understandably frustrated when they find they can no longer embed Facebook and Instagram links the way they could in the past. Some will not be motivated to surmount the hurdle of setting up a Facebook app and may resort to posting screenshots or omitting the content altogether. A feature so widely used by non-technical users should not be suddenly locked away behind developer credentials.

At the time of publishing, none of the original oEmbed spec authors were available for comment regarding Facebook’s API change, but we will update the post as new information becomes available.

WordPress to Remove Facebook and Instagram oEmbed Providers

In response to Facebook’s API change, WordPress will be removing Facebook as an oEmbed provider in an upcoming core release. This will break a lot of content – many years’ worth of posts in some instances, and will require users to install a fallback plugin. WordPress plugin developer Ayesh Karunaratne has created a new plugin called oEmbed Plus that brings back support for Facebook and Instagram content embedding. It guides users through the process of setting up Facebook developer app credentials.

For those who are using the Gutenberg plugin, the Facebook and Instagram blocks have been removed as part of tomorrow’s version 9.0 release. oEmbed links will continue to work until Facebook’s API change goes into effect.

Moving forward, publishers will need to re-examine how they include social media links within their content. Hulu recently dropped oEmbed support after being available as an oEmbed provider in WordPress for the past 11 years. As major players like Facebook and Instagram follow suit in abandoning open web API’s, the web is growing increasingly more fragmented. Facebook’s upcoming API change will leave millions of broken embeds in its wake, with little pieces of embedded history lost along the way, in instances where website owners are no longer updating their content.


13 responses to “Upcoming API Change Will Break Facebook and Instagram oEmbed Links Across the Web Beginning October 24”

  1. Facebook is one source of our traffic, so I am loathe to leave it, even though I have debated that exit with myself for years. This step on their part, though, is another in a long line of reason in my mind to take down our page and stop posting updates there.

    I’m probably over-reacting.

    Or not.

    • Maybe I’m misunderstanding comments along the same line as yours, but it seems to me that we’re just talking about embedding Facebook/Instagram content. Such as embedding a Facebook post into a website blog post.

      Ultimately, you never really owned the content, so for social media sites to create a more secure environment for website embedding seems to be a step to protect their own users from being associated with websites that are illegitimate, black hat, or spammy.

      Twitter has had a similar approach to embedding content for years.

  2. I’m so done with Facebook. I deleted my account a couple of months ago, and I’m certainly not diving back into that swamp to make links to it prettier. I think I may scrub my site to make sure there are no links to it at all.

  3. This is just another reminder of why utilizing social media in your content is risky. These companies can up and change their API at any time, causing issues for a lot of folks.

    Beyond that, I would think Facebook has a few million other major issues to deal with right now.

  4. Yikes, quite the case for self-hosted / decentralized social media.

    I ditched social media a few years ago and have not missed it one bit. Email marketing was 10x more effective all along. Better to “miss out” than waste time. What’s hard is leaving because “everybody” is there. FOMO psychology makes a person keep doing what might not even be working.

  5. 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.

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

  6. facebook guidelines are becoming more and more self-isolating. facebook responsible owners not only try to control the political debate on facebook but try to make it virtually impossible and share their content elsewhere. I tried to set up and use Mediapress, I finally gave up. It is no longer possible. Can’t get through because of a security! why does not appear, some savr from them! completely hopeless. They are very arrogant and confident. But one day they meet the wall. One should boycott this whole anti-social and politically controlled website. One just has to realize that they have put up a fence and thrown away the key. And I do not bother to look for it, rather buy a new door somewhere else. facebook is just getting more and more tragicomic.


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