Blog Law: Facebook Promotion Guidelines Updated

Facebook Promotion Guidelines

This week, on May 11, 2011, Facebook made some sweeping changes to their promotional guidelines. The Facebook promotion guidelines are much shorter, but still pack a punch. As such, I wanted to highlight the changes.  To see the prior iteration of the guideline, check out my Blog Law post about the prior Facebook promotion guidelines.

Things That Remain the Same

1. You Must Use A Third-Party Application. The rule is now plain and simple that promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or an app on a Page Tab.

2. You must not suggest Facebook is connected with your promotion

3. You must not ask people to interact on your Facebook page to vote or qualify

  • You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. (New Term #3) For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant. This means you can’t say that when you reach XX ‘Likes’ you’ll give 5 people something cool
  • You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app.  (New Term #4) For example, you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall.
  • You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion. (New Term #5)

What this means for blogger & brand promotions?: If clicking ‘Like’ is an entry – and it would need to be an alternative means of entry due to Giveaway Laws – then the entrant must then take an additional step to tell you they clicked ‘Like’. If using a 3rd party app within Facebook, this step is taken care of through the subsequent entry process. If not using a 3rd party app on Facebook then the entrant must go back to your blog or website and somehow tell you they did this. Simply clicking ‘Like’ as a means of entry into a promotion would be a violation of the Promotion Guidelines.

4. You must not use Facebook for notifying winners. This means no posting to walls, private messages, chat or anything that uses Facebook to communicate with the winner.

5. You must not use Facebook’s intellectual property, except to comply with the rules. This means you can say the word Facebook when you disclaim it is no involved with your promotion but you can’t use their trademark, trade name, copyright or other intellectual property to promote any aspect of your promotion.

6. You still have to comply with all Federal, State and Local laws regarding contests, giveaways, promotions, sweepstakes and the like.

Things That Changed

1. No longer will Facebook prohibit any goods or services from being offered in a promotion. In the past, they excluded things like dairy, alcohol, tobacco, etc. This mean that you’re likely to see more promotions for things you may not be used to seeing. In addition, it means you’re pretty much free to offer whatever you want as your prize as long as it’s not prohibited by law.

2. No longer are Facebook promotions limited to people age 18 and over. While you may make that limitation, Facebook is essentially opening all promotions to anyone who can legitimately sign up for a Facebook account. This mean, children age 13 – 17 are now potentially able to enter promotions. Of course, if you are going to open a promotion to anyone under the age of 18, I highly suggest learning about the specific laws regarding promotions to minors.

3. Facebook no longer has exclusions based on location. Essentially, you can now offer promotions worldwide if you’re willing to comply with whatever law govern such promotions. Just make sure your giveaway is legal!

4. The new Facebook promotion guidelines will allow for sweepstakes promotions as well as contests in which the winner is determined on the basis of skill. This is a slight departure from the prior rules which had several restrictions. Now, it’s basically up to you to comply with any laws.

5. All promotions MUST include the following:

a. A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
b. Acknowledgment that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. (Note: this term isn’t actually new)
c. Disclosure that the participant is providing information to [disclose recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook.

 

Overall, I think these promotion guidelines are much better and easier to comply with. Rather than taking it upon themselves to police promotions, it appears that Facebook is shifting liability and responsibility to the promoter. That doesn’t mean Facebook will all of a sudden slack off in monitoring compliance. Failure to comply with these new guidelines will result in your account being suspended, just as it had before.

For other articles about the legal implications of being online, check out my series on blog law and online rights.

Disclosure: While I am a lawyer, I am not offering legal advice. Posts on legal matters are intended to provide legal information and do not create an attorney/client relationship. This post is part of my Blog Law Series.

Sara

Blog Law: Facebook Promotion Guidelines

Facebook Logo image

UPDATE: Facebook changed their promotion guidelines on May 11, 2011. This post reflects information regarding promotion guidelines prior to that date. I have provided an update to Facebook promotion guidelines.

Technically, Facebook promotions and giveaways are not a legal issue. However it has come up quite a bit so I figured it’s an important topic. In addition, you run the risks of having your business-related page removed or banned by Facebook if your promotion is not in compliance with the guidelines.

One of the great things about the internet is that information is just a few clicks away. The unfortunate part is that not all that information is true, correct or accurate. Facebook Promotion Guidelines changed on December 1, 2010 making it easier to run a variety of promotions. So, if searching for what you can do to promote your giveaway, review, sweepstakes or contest make sure you’re looking at the most current terms.

General Rules

1. You Must Use A Third-Party Application

According to the Facebook Promotion Guidelines you can not use the Facebook platform to conduct any part of a promotion. (Well, you can use the Facebook platform but you need their permission and you also need to have pretty hefty ad spending) You shall not collect entries, conducting a drawing, judging entries, or notifying winners. You must use a third-party service or create a promotions that that is hosted on your server. For most bloggers, using a third-party application is often not cost effective. Some options for hosting a Facebook promotion you may want to consider

Wildfire – the most widely used, and offers a ‘DIY’ type low-cost option

Bulbstorm – not aware of any blogger-based pricing option

Fanappz – offers a Free ‘Lite’ options but does not include promotions

Friend2Friend – a business-level application, pricing options not provided on website

NorthSocial – Offers pricing plans that may be blogger-budget friendly

There are other applications for Facebook promotions but I find them to be out of the price range for most bloggers.

2. You Can Not Suggest Facebook Is Connected With Your Promotion

Facebook is very protective of its intellectual property and wants you to tell every that they have nothing to do with your promotion. You must make it very clear that Facebook is in no way affiliated with your promotion. Facebook provide specific details as to the language that is to be used so that you are in compliance, so see the guidelines for additional help.

3. You Can Not Ask People To Interact On Your Facebook Page To Vote or Qualify

Facebook is very clear that it does not want you asking people to interact on your page as part of your promotion. No posting photos, leaving comments, making status updates, tagging, linking or any such requests. Facebook, being so kind as they are, has outlined what you MAY DO:

  • Allow entry by asking reader to Like a Page
  • Allow entry by asking reader to Check in to a Place
  • Allow reader to Connect to your Contest Tab or Application

4. Limitations On Your Facebook Promotion

  • The promotion can not be open or marketed to individuals under the age of 18;
  • The promotion can not be open to individuals who reside in a country embargoed by the United States;
  • The promotion, if a sweepstakes, can not be open to individuals residing in Belgium, Norway, Sweden, or India;
  • The promotion’s objective can not be to promote any of the following product categories: gambling, tobacco, firearms, prescription drugs, or gasoline;
  • The prize or any part of the prize can not include alcohol, tobacco, dairy, firearms, or prescription drugs; or
  • The promotion can not be a sweepstakes that conditions entry upon the purchase of a product, completion of a lengthy task, or other form of consideration.

There you have it. Facebook promotion guideline in an easy to understand format so every blogger can comply with the guidelines and not risk losing your page due to non-compliance.

For other articles about the legal implications of being online, check out my series on blog law and online rights.

Disclosure: While I am a lawyer, I am not offering legal advice. Posts on legal matters are intended to provide legal information and do not create an attorney/client relationship. This post is part of my Blog Law Series.

Sara