"It seems obvious that if you add a function call to a certain plugin's code, WordPress will need for that plugin to be activated if it wants to access its code."
[ Moderator note: the next text has been de-capped into lower case. Please do not do that again, it's considered rude. ]
i did not say the problem was that the plugin's code could not be accessed. neither did i say that social media feather icons were not working. i said that the activation of the upgraded plugin messed up my theme's own social icons (in the posts & excerpts) and when i tried to prevent it from happening by inactivating your upgraded plugin, the deactivation of your upgraded plugin made my site disappear.
In the WordPress Plugin directory, the following is in the 'Description' section of YOUR plugin:
If you don't want to use shortcodes but instead prefer to use PHP directly, there are 2 PHP functions/template tags you can use.
For sharing buttons you can use:
For following buttons you can use:
So YOUR own description says that could be done. Anyway, I put the 2nd piece of code into the header.php to add FB & RSS cons to the nav bar MONTHS ago, and it worked '(social media feather' icons were in nav bar). Today, I upgraded to the new version of your plugin, and it still worked ('social media feather' icons were in nav bar); HOWEVER, 1) the theme's own FB share icon (in posts) disappeared, AND 2) the entire site disappeared once your plugin was disabled.