It has been two days of announcement, and all the WordPress community has been divided! Astra WordPress theme that has been used by more than 1 Million users for their Blogs and site, now it has been shut down or has become private and personalized for 5 Weeks! What is the reason behind this announcement? Let’s go through the bottom of this!
The reason behind this announcement is, illegally injecting the affiliated links in their free themes and plugins, without displaying any terms & Conditions.
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What is Affiliate Links?
An Affiliate links which allows any organization or a person to earn a profit from simply recommending the product. To put the Affiliated links without any public declaration can lead to many problems as well with Laws defined by country.
Official Statement by WordPress
According to the WordPress Auditing theme, They have tried to reach out to Brainstorm Force – which is the Parent company of Astra WordPress several times for this issue, but they have not replied to it and do not take any actions to solve the problem.
On 7 August, 2020 There was a discussion of WordPress about Astra and Theme Review Team Boat (TRT) Messenger. Later, TRT posted an update on the Astra WordPress of removal from the WordPress Repository.
“18 months ago you started adding affiliate links in your theme.
…We have this requirement against this:
Themes are not allowed to have affiliate URLs or links.
We added this requirement more than 18 months ago, specifically for this kind of issue.
We also asked other theme authors to remove such links from their themes and discussed this topic, on Slack & the blog, for many weeks.
We don’t understand how you can miss something like this, and it’s also not the first time we have to come and tell you something is wrong with your theme.
Because of this, your theme will be suspended for the next 5 weeks (until September 11th, 2020).”
Response by Brainstorm Force Astra Theme to WordPress
However, Brainstorm force is denying by making a statement that they have not added any Affiliated links to the theme itself. Hence, Theme is technically complying with the WordPress rules.
Brainstorm force also said that the Astra theme had been used to third party plugins just for passing the referral code.
“We however admit that we used filters available in third-party plugins where we only pass our referral code.
But at the same time, we do NOT add any affiliate links or whatsoever as per the requirement.
We’re not sure if using the referral filter is against the requirement. But if it is, we’re happy to remove it immediately and submit the new version.”
Astra Theme Really Inject Affiliated Links?
Brainstorm Force was firm in their statement that They have not added any Affiliate Links. They have only added referral code via third-party plugins.
Then, WordPress linked to the code within the Astra theme that appears from the popular LinkShare Affiliate Network.
Take a look on the below Pictures:
Theme Suspension of Astra is still Live!
You cannot download the Astra WordPress Theme from the WordPress Repository. You can assume that current millions of users will not be able to update their Astra theme via WordPress for five weeks.
Astra has announced that they have released an update with the removal of all the Affiliated referral codes. This new version complies with WordPress rules. Any further updates are needed to be downloaded from Github Repository.
Apparently, WordPress has officially suspended the Astra theme. Brainstorm has requested to them to remove the suspension. As WordPress has already tried to resolve this issue before the suspension, but they gave no proper answer to this issue, That is the main reason WordPress needs to suspend the Astra theme.
Now all the users of Astra must have to wait for the five weeks. In between, let’s hope for the best!