January 16, 2019

Does the Facebook Page Plugin need an App ID or not?

Filed under: Social Media, Software Blog — marcstober @ 12:20 pm

A while ago I set up the official Facebook Page Plugin on a WordPress site I help manage for Beantown Jewish Gardens, a small nonprofit.

At the time, Facebook seemed to want me to sign up for an App ID to do this, so I did, even though adding some Facebook code to our site hardly felt like an “app”. The App ID is included in the code you add to the page to use the Page Plugin.

Recently, Facebook has changed their rules and requires Apps to go through a review process regarding use of personal data, privacy policy, etc. This morning, I got a developer alert from Facebook that they had removed permissions from the my app because it failed review. Of course, the things is failed review for was wanting to access personal information that I wasn’t accessing and didn’t want to access—I just wanted the Page Plugin to show up on our site. And the Page Plugin was still showing up on the site just fine.

Looking further at the documentation for the page plugin, I found some conflicting information. While the FAQs said that an App ID and review is not required, when I went to the place where you can grab the code to put in your page, it forced me to choose an App ID:

Eventually, I had the idea to open the same page to generate the code in a Private Window in Firefox, so Facebook wouldn’t know it was me. Behold, it now generated the without making me choose an App ID–actually, in this state you wouldn’t even know that was a possibility! (I’m also wondering if I was the Admin of the Facebook page if I might have had some different options while logged in.)

So, I guess I don’t need an App any more after all. It would be nice if Facebook could just keep this more simple and stable in the first place but I guess that’s not the world we live in. 😐

In the end, it was a one-line code change to remove the App ID. I also thought about going back to a WordPress plugin to handle this for us—there had been some reason I didn’t do that at one point in the past, but maybe there’s a good option now (this one?). (Note that while it’s called “Facebook Page Plugin” it’s not a “plugin” in the WordPress sense.)

Anyway, I didn’t find any information on this specific issue on the web so I figured I’d put these notes up on my blog in case anyone runs into the same issue.