Facebook's Instant Articles rejects articles that contain hyperlinks to the current page (e.g. <a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a>). How can I filter the post content to remove these links before publishing to Facebook Instant Articles?

I'm aware of a similar question on StackOverflow: How to remove hyperlink of images in wordpress post?, but my RegEx skills aren't good enough to convert that to what I need.

PS - I'm using the semi-official Instant Articles for WP, which means I can filter instant_articles_content.

PPS - It would be nice to know both how to remove the link but leave the link text, and how to remove both the link and the link text.

3 Answers 3


Inspired by @Samuel Elh, but accounting for single or double quoted attributes and a href that might not be the first attribute of an anchor:

function wpse_227315_strip_hyperlinks( $content ) {
    preg_match_all( '!<a[^>]*? href=[\'"]#[^<]+</a>!i', $content, $matches );

    foreach ( $matches[0] as $link )
        $content = str_replace( $link, strip_tags( $link ), $content );

    return $content;

add_filter( 'the_content', 'wpse_227315_strip_hyperlinks' );

Note this will completely remove the link node/HTML from the post content. This will replace the HTML link with just the inner text.

  • This works well, but I'd appreciate an alternative which removes the link but retains the link text. I could use WordPress' wp_kses function, but that's probably overkill... Commented May 20, 2016 at 14:25
  • Just add strip_tags, see revision Commented May 20, 2016 at 14:43

You can use the Interconnectit DB Search/Replace Tool to search and replace all instances of strings in your database. This may not fully solve your problem, but you could start with searching for <a href="# and replacing it with <a href=".

I don't think that's exactly what you're trying to do, but hopefully it's a start in the right direction.


Try this function:

function wpse_227315_strip_hyperlinks( $content ) { 

    preg_match_all( '/<a href=\\"([^\\"]*)\\">(.*)<\\/a>/iU', $content, $matches );

    foreach( $matches[0] as $link ) {

        preg_match_all('/(?<=href=\").+(?=\")/', $link, $matches2);
        $href = isset( $matches2[0][0] ) ? $matches2[0][0] : false;

        if( 0 === strpos($href, '#') ) {

            $content = str_replace( $link, strip_tags($link), $content );


    return $content;


Hook it into your content filter e.g add_filter(tag_name, 'wpse_227315_strip_hyperlinks'). You should remove the filter (with remove_filter() e.g remove_filter(tag_name, 'wpse_227315_strip_hyperlinks')) after you post to Facebook.

  • Why are you regexing all links & iterating & regexing again for the hash? Just use the hash regex to begin with and iterate => replace Commented May 20, 2016 at 13:43
  • @TheDeadMedic lol I am really new to Regex I couldn't put together such expression but I'll try again and edit the answer. Thank you.
    – Ismail
    Commented May 20, 2016 at 13:53
  • 1
    No worries, I'm surprised you're new to it! I've also posted an answer to illustrate. Commented May 20, 2016 at 14:03
  • Awesome! Thank you for the answer, it helped me and it should help the question author as well :)
    – Ismail
    Commented May 20, 2016 at 14:12
  • The code isn't working reliably for me. Using simple test data, it's fine. But using it with one of my actual posts, and the first preg_match_all function returns an empty array. Here's a Fiddle: phpfiddle.org/main/code/8vjk-n0wx Commented May 20, 2016 at 14:20

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