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WordPress 5.5.1 Fixes Millions of Broken Sites

WordPress is publishing a maintenance release that fixes issues that broke millions of websites.

In July, we reported that WordPress released WordPress 5.5 Beta 1 available for testing, but it seems all did not got to plan as the new update negatively affected millions of websites.

WordPress 5.5 negatively impacted millions of websites, it is for that reason that a patch was urgently released last week, September 1, 2020.

New information published, describes why WordPress 5.5 had such a negative impact. The website is now publishing a maintenance release, version 5.5.1.

The announcement about what went wrong linked to a spreadsheet naming hundreds of plugins and themes that were affected. There initially was casual speculation that the impact was relatively small and limited to thousands of websites. But that wasn’t the case.

The spreadsheet also notes what the specific issue is for each plugin and theme, which will help software developers fix their plugins and themes.

A blog post released on their website last week explained the issue surrounding the new update, “In WordPress 5.5 the global JavaScript objects listed below were removed without being deprecated. WordPress 5.5.1 adds a backfill for these globals so they no longer cause JavaScript errors.

“The plan is to remove this fallback code in two major versions, so this will be deleted in WordPress 5.7. This gives plugin and theme developers ample time to remove the conflicting code and switch to using wp.i18n”

A maintenance release has been published, version 5.5.1. It is designed to serve as a patch to give time for plugin and theme developers to update their software.

The announcement about what went wrong linked to a spreadsheet naming hundreds of plugins and themes that were affected.

The spreadsheet also notes what the specific issue is for each plugin and theme, which will help software developers fix their plugins and themes.

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Facebook Updates Fact-Checking Ratings

Facebook has announced its latest updates regarding fact-checking in a statement released last week.

In the statement, the Facebook update outlined its approach to providing additional context for information that might not be outright false. The company released new ratings for its Third-Party Fact-Checking Program to help provide more clarity about misinformation flagged by its partners.

“We are announcing two new ratings to provide our fact-checking partners with more latitude to better reflect their research, and to help ensure that people who come across these posts have more precise information to judge what to read, trust, and share.

“The first rating, called “Altered,” is designed specifically for videos and images that have been manipulated in ways that could mislead people. For example, an edited video that shows someone shaking someone’s hand when they didn’t. Or an image where someone used Photoshop to depict a person at a location that they weren’t actually at.

“The second rating, called “Missing Context,” is designed for content that may mislead without additional context. Over the past few months, our fact-checking partners have increasingly flagged examples of this type of content to us, which wasn’t accurately represented by our existing ratings.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic and heading into the elections in the U.S. and around the world, we realize how important it is for people to understand what they’re seeing when they’re using our services and then judge its worth. We’ll begin to roll these new ratings out globally throughout the coming weeks.”

The new Facebook update also announced that opinion pieces, even ones that are framed as op-eds or editorials, are not exempt from being fact-checked. “Why? Because presenting something as opinion isn’t meant to give a free pass to content that spreads false information,” the statement read.

“This content is generally not eligible for fact-checking because we don’t want to interfere with individual expression. But there is an important exception. If content is presented as opinion but is based on underlying false information – even if it’s an op-ed or editorial – it’s still eligible to be fact-checked.”

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WordPress 5.5 update coming in August

On 7 July, WordPress made WordPress 5.5 Beta 1 available for testing. After fixing 48 bugs, Beta 2 was made available to the public last week, with the official release date scheduled for 11 August 2020.

The upcoming update will expand the content management system’s auto-updating capabilities to themes and plugins.

While most of the updates centre around the Gutenberg plugin, additionally XML sitemaps will now be included along with lazy-load images. The round up of updates is available below, taken from the official site.

Block editor: features and improvements

WordPress 5.5 will include ten releases of the Gutenberg plugin, bringing with it a long list of exciting new features. Here are just a few:

Inline image editing – Crop, rotate, and zoom photos inline right from image blocks.

Block patterns – Building elaborate pages can be a breeze with new block patterns. Several are included by default.

Device previews – See how your content will look to users on many different screen sizes.

End block overwhelm. The new block inserter panel displays streamlined categories and collections. As a bonus, it supports patterns and integrates with the new block directory right out of the box.

Discover, install, and insert third-party blocks from your editor using the new block directory.

A better, smoother editing experience with:

Refined drag-and-drop

Block movers that you can see and grab

Parent block selection

Contextual focus highlights

Multi-select formatting lets you change a bunch of blocks at once

Ability to copy and relocate blocks easily

And, better performance

An expanded design toolset for themes.

Now add backgrounds and gradients to more kinds of blocks, like groups, columns, media & text.

XML sitemaps

XML Sitemaps are now included in WordPress and enabled by default. Sitemaps are essential to search engines discovering the content on your website. Your site’s home page, posts, pages, custom post types, and more will be included to improve your site’s visibility.

Auto-updates for plugins and themes

WordPress 5.5 also brings auto-updates for plugins and themes. Easily control which plugins and themes keep themselves up to date on their own. It’s always recommended that you run the latest versions of all plugins and themes. The addition of this feature makes that easier than ever!

Lazy-loading images

WordPress 5.5 will include native support for lazy-loaded images utilizing new browser standards. With lazy-loading, images will not be sent to users until they approach the viewport. This saves bandwidth for everyone (users, hosts, ISPs), makes it easier for those with slower internet speeds to browse the web, saves electricity, and more.

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Facebook updates its algorithms to prioritize ‘original news’

Last week, as part of an attempt to reduce spam, click bait and specious articles, Facebook updated its algorithms, placing a heavy focus on original reporting and transparent authorship.

With half of the UK population now turning to social media for the latest news, Facebook seems to be the leading source. The update will prioritize original reporting of news stories, identifying and boosting outlets that publish the stories first.

Facebook explained how they intended to do this in a blog, written by Campbell Brown, VP, Global News Partnerships and Jon Levin, Product Manager:

“We will do this by looking at groups of articles on a particular story topic and identifying the ones most often cited as the original source. We’ll start by identifying original reporting in English language news and will do the same for news in other languages in the future.”

The idea behind this is to reward those who “take time and expertise” to produce original and important journalism.

The second element, transparent authorship, is pretty straight forward – if you’re publishing a news story, include a by-line.

“We will review news articles for by-lines or a staff page on the publisher’s website that lists the first and last names of reporters or other editorial staff. We’ve found that publishers who do not include this information often lack credibility to readers and produce content with clickbait or ad farms, all content people tell us they don’t want to see on Facebook.

But this is not the only updates the company is making, Facebook is also experimenting with a new feature where it will notify users when they are sharing a potentially out-of-date news article.

“Over the past several months, our internal research found that the timeliness of an article is an important piece of context that helps people decide what to read, trust and share,” Facebook Vice President of Feed and Stories John Hegeman wrote on the company’s blog.

Facebook hopes the updates will feed the appetite for more credible and informative news stories, resulting in news that feels authentic.