I was recently working on a headless WordPress project. It has a React frontend that uses the WP REST API to communicate with the WP backend. I had some pages that I needed to only be accessible to logged-in users, and was looking for a way to lock down access to those Pages. By default, WordPress allows anybody (logged-in and logged-out users alike) to fetch Page data from REST API requests like these:



What we’ll do in the following code snippets is modify that behavior so that the REST API only exposes protected Pages to logged in users. Note that the examples below show checking if a _is_protected_content post meta key is set to true to determine whether the Page is protected, but you could just as easily check if the Page has a certain category/tag/taxonomy term/etc. instead, if needed.

Set up a custom REST API controller class for the Page post type

When WordPress registers its built-in Page and Post post types, it sets both of them up to use the WP_REST_Posts_Controller class to handle REST API requests. We’ll add a filter to set the Page post type to use a KM_REST_Pages_Controller class that we’ll create instead.

Once that’s in place, we can now define our KM_REST_Pages_Controller class. It will extend the WP_REST_Posts_Controller class and inherit all of its functionality, except for the get_item_permissions_check() method, which we will override. Our version of that method will include an additional check to make sure the current user should be able to access the post before allowing them to. The only new code here is on lines 20-30 – all the rest of the code is identical to the get_item_permissions_check() method inside of the WP_REST_Posts_Controller class.

Now, when a REST API request for an individual Page, like domain.com/wp-json/wp/v2/pages/123 comes in, WordPress will serve up that Page’s content if the user is logged in. Otherwise, an error response will be given with a message of “Sorry, you are not allowed to view posts in this post type”.

Limit Pages REST API requests to users with the required permissions

At this point, requests for Pages (plural) are still not protected. To fix that, we’ll implement a filter to tell WordPress that whenever it’s about to query the database for a REST API request for Pages, the the user isn’t logged in, it should exclude protected Pages from the query.

Now requests for Pages (a.k.a. Page post collection requests) like domain.com/wp-json/wds/v1/page?slug=some-page-slug are also protected. If a user is logged in, they’ll get all pages in the response. If they’re not, they’ll only get the pages that are not protected in the response.

Checking for a User’s Role or Capabilities Instead

In these examples, I’m simply checking if the user is currently logged in to determine whether protected content should be included in the response. If you want to take things a step further and check whether the user has a certain role or certain capabilities, you can use checks like current_user_can( ‘administrator’ ), current_user_can( ‘edit_posts’ ), and so on. More info on roles and capabilities is here: https://codex.wordpress.org/Roles_and_Capabilities

Modifying the Post post type Response

The code snippets I’ve shared involve modifying the REST API response for Pages, but the same could easily be done for Posts, as well. To do that, you would need to:

  1. Change if ( ‘page’ !== $name ) to if ( post !== $name ) on line 15 of the first snippet
  2. Change the KM_REST_Pages_Controller class name in the first and second code snippets to something like KM_REST_Pages_Controller instead.
  3. Change add_filter( ‘rest_page_query’ on line 32 of the third code snippet to add_filter( ‘rest_page_query’.


I hope some folks find this useful! Happy coding.

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