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Facebook API Changes

[Web Development]

Have you gotten a development alert from Facebook about an "App" requiring approval through some kind of review process? Has your blog stopped auto-posting blog posts to Facebook? If so, the following may be of interest to you.

You may have heard in recent news about how Facebook is in some hot water because they managed to allow millions of people's personal data to be harvested from their platform without permission via some sketchy "personality tests". Well, these personality tests were "Apps" created on Facebook's platform by other companies (not Facebook). Cambridge Analytica is a large data firm that were the ones that ultimately ended up with all of this personal data. They allegedly used the data of these compromised users to inform social media influence campaigns that they ran to try and change public opinion of presidential candidates running up to the 2016 election.

As a result of this, Facebook has been under scrutiny and has decided to close unrestricted access to their API. This means they changed some things that make it much more difficult for this to happen in the future. Unfortunately, this also means that all Facebook "Apps" require a very in-depth review and approval process before it can be green-lit for use.

This does not solely affect blog auto-posting, as there are many other apps in addition to the ones that do that. However, for our clients, this is the most common reason for having a Facebook app that would be subject to this review process. So the remainder of this post will focus on that.

The plugin used for auto-posting to Facebook from WordPress is called SNAP (a.k.a. Social Networks Auto Poster). Part of the setup and configuration has previously involved setting up a Facebook "App" that it uses to post on your behalf. The recent changes Facebook made to it's API access has put a damper on this, since getting apps approved through their review process is time-consuming and there's no guarantee it will be approved. It involves taking screenshots and video of the usage of the app and detailed explanations about why each permission is required. It's far from a 1-click "Submit my app for review" type of solution.

Fortunately the developers of the plugin (SNAP) have a solution. You can purchase the premium version of the plugin, which apparently utilizes an alternative method of communicating with Facebook to post on your behalf. This costs $49.95 per year for a license. It would also require a bit of time for VDW to set up for you.

Please don't hesitate to reach out to us to see if you've been affected by these changes, if you want us to implement the fix for you, or if you just have questions about anything mentioned above.

Here's the official blog post by NextScrips (the makers of SNAP) explaining the situation in more detail.