Facebook has updated their promotion and contest guidelines again and it seems like nobody is paying attention. Which is a bad because if you’re not following the rules Facebook states they have the right to take your page down and remove all contest related materials.
I’ve read over then latest revision (dated 12-22-09) and while it’s not much different than what they were there are some key things to keep in mind, so here’s a quick breakdown of the rules as they sit now.
Section 1. General:
You need to be sure that your promo* complies will all the laws (state, federal, etc) before considering one. You are also completely liable and responsible for the contest in it’s entirety, Facebook holds no responsibility what so ever. You also can’t use their name, trademarks, copyrighted material, etc. in the rule or promo materials without express written consent. Also, misleading people in any aspect of your promotion is a big no no.
Section 2. Prohibitions:
You are prohibited from using a promotion if it’s open to people who are under 18, reside in a country embargoed by the US, residing in Belgium, Norway, Sweden, or India, or if you have to purchase something, complete a lengthy task or any other form of consideration.
Also, your promotion can’t have anything at all to do with alcohol, tobacco, dairy, firearms, gambling, gasoline, or prescription drugs as a source or a prize.
Section 3. Administering a Promotion through the Facebook Platform:
You can NOT administer any promotion at all without prior written approval from an account representative. Once you get that approval you can only administer it through an application (like WildFire) and users can only enter the promotion in the applications tab (or canvas page of the app).
There is also some VERY specific language you must have adjacent to the promotion entry field, very specific wording for how Facebook can be mentioned in the rules (see the rules for wording) and you must submit all materials to your account rep 7 days before the start of your promo.
You MUST have a designated person to contact about the promotion. In your contest rules you MUST say that Facebook does not sponsor, endorse, etc your promo, have release from all entrants from Facebook, and that all questions, comments, etc. be directed to the designated person and NOT Facebook.
Section 4. Publicizing a Promotion on Facebook:
You don’t need the written approval of a Facebook account rep if the promo is administered completely off of the Facebook platform and you’re just promoting the off platform promo through your Facebook account. However, if they think you’ve violated any of the other rules they will remove any and all materials related to the promo from Facebook and disable your pages and accounts.
To avoid this never ever indicate (directly or indirectly) that Facebook is a sponsor, partner, promoter or has anything at all to do with your contest. You can NOT condition it so that entry into your promo is gained by having people complete actions on Facebook (like posting on a wall, updating status, uploading a photo, etc.). However, you can condition entry to the promo after they become a fan of a Page (tab hidden to non fans).
Section 5. Indemnification:
You are responsible for EVERYTHING and Facebook is responsible for NOTHING.
Section 6. Facebook Rights:
They may (and have) change the guidelines when ever they want to and don’t have to notify you. So bookmark the promotion and contest guidelines page and refer to it before you launch any promo, contest, sweepstakes, competition, etc on Facebook. All decisions about promotions are at their discretion and can tell you to stop at any time for any reason.
They have the right, but are not obligated to, look over all of your rules, materials, etc. for the promo so you need to have them all at the ready in case you are asked for them. They may remove any material at all regarding the promo (including your pages and accounts) from Facebook if they want.
Facebook is not responsible for making sure your promo falls in line will all the state, federal, etc. laws. You are responsible and if someone is wrong you will be held responsible, not Facebook.
So that’s the breakdown of the rules as they sit right now. If you’re considering a Facebook promotion don’t use this as your ultimate guide. If you’re considering PLEASE READ THE GUIDELINES.
On the guideline page Facebook gives a few quick examples of what you can and can’t do. They help clarify some of the sections so I’ve copied and pasted them here for your convenience:
You cannot: Condition entry in the promotion upon a user providing content on Facebook, such as making a post on a profile or Page, status comment or photo upload.
You can: Use a third party application to condition entry to the promotion upon a user providing content. For example, you may administer a photo contest whereby a user uploads a photo through a third-party application to enter the contest.
You cannot: Administer a promotion that users automatically enter by becoming a fan of your Page.
You can: Only allow fans of your Page to access the tab that contains the third-party application for the promotion.
You cannot: Notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles or Pages.
You can: Collect an address or email through the third-party application for the promotion in order to contact the winner by email or standard mail.
You cannot: Instruct people (in the rules or elsewhere) to sign up for a Facebook account before they enter the promotion.
You can: Instruct users to visit the third-party application to enter the promotion (as described in Section 3.4(i)). Since users must have a Facebook account in order to access an application on the Facebook Platform, if you give this instruction, they will be prompted to sign up for a Facebook account if they do not already have one.
What do you think? Good changes, bad changes? Good limitations or did they make it too difficult? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.
Thanks for reading,
Josh “Shua” Peters
*promo refers to any sweepstakes, contest, competition, or promotion