New Rules for Facebook Competitions & Sweepstakes

by G on September 6, 2013

I am doing a straight copy and paste from the source (Kyle Beth Hilfer) which I think is a good legal resource for getting social media lowdowns.

On August 27, 2013, Facebook updated its promotion guidelines to make it easier to run sweepstakes and contests on the platform.  In its announcement of the updates, Facebook is reaching out to “businesses of all sizes,” tacitly acknowledging the added expense associated with its previous requirements that sweepstakes and contests run through a third party application.

The new guidelines are considerably more user-friendly than the old ones. Facebook now allows businesses to run sweepstakes and contests from their Page Timelines and in other apps directly on Facebook. Businesses may:

  • Use posts or comments as a method of entry
  • Use a “like” as an entry
  • Count votes through “likes”

At the same time,  Facebook reminds businesses that Personal Timelines are still off-limits for promotion administration. Facebook clarifies this by explaining that businesses cannot tag or encourage people to tag themselves inaccurately. So

  • Businesses can “ask people to submit names of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize.”
  • Businesses CANNOT ask people to “tag themselves in pictures of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize.” , meaning that sharing a post about the sweepstakes on a Personal Timeline cannot be a method of entry. Similarly, a sponsor cannot offer additional sweepstakes entries for sharing a post on a friend’s Timeline.

Explaining the restrictions on Personal Timelines, Facebook asserts, “We want to make sure that people continue to post authentic, high quality content to their Facebook Timelines to stay better connected with the people they care about.” Facebook also cites some technical reasons based on privacy settings that prevent the use of Personal Timelines. Interestingly, Facebook leaves the door open for promotion on Personal Timelines in the future, saying it “may explore” this option in the future.

Facebook reminds its business customers that they may wish to continue to use an application on Facebook to run their promotions as they provide a more customized experience to the consumer and more options for collecting data. Indeed, any advertiser looking to collect data like e-mail addresses will still want to use an application. In the meantime, for those businesses who do not want to spend the time or money to make an application or go through a third party application (perhaps, for example, to do a quick trivia contest or conduct an informal survey or give away some low-end prizes), Facebook has just empowered them to launch easily and directly on Facebook’s pages.

We may see an avalanche of sweepstakes and contests in coming months on Facebook as businesses scramble to take advantage of the platform’s easing of requirements. At the same time, we will likely see an increasing amount of illegal lotteries as businesses forget to vet their promotions to ensure their structures are valid. One thing has not changed, however: as before, the overall legality of the promotion is the responsibility of the Sponsor, and the rules must continue to make clear that Facebook is in no way connected to the promotion.

Now is the time for businesses to review the requirements for legal sweepstakes and contests. Even if Facebook has opened up the highway, the regulators are still patrolling the roads.

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Author Information
Glyn S. H. has been online marketing since 1999 and has developed campaigns for leading luxury brands that have included Nestlè and Interflora . He works primarily in for the Travel and Tourism sector, helping hotels beat-down OTA paychecks. He has a web-marketing company, a Masters in Professional Communication, speaks fluent Italian, and is married with two kids. He also has a good sense of humour – essential for survival in web-marketing. He is not employed by Google. To contact via email: glyn@ (this domain).

 

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