Facebook updated its Promotions Guidelines ("Guidelines") on November 4, 2009, which govern the publicizing and administering of all promotions, including contests, sweepstakes, competitions or similar offerings on Facebook.  The changes to the Facebook Guidelines expand Facebook's restrictions on the content of promotions publicized or administered through the Facebook Platform and limit the manner in which a business may use Facebook to publicize or administer promotion(s).

General Terms

Facebook's Guidelines include various general terms that govern both publicizing and administering promotions.  For Example:

  • A business that wants to publicize or administer its promotion on Facebook agrees to be responsible for ensuring total compliance with all applicable federal, state, provincial and local laws, as well as with industry rules, regulations and guidelines.
  • The business agrees to be fully responsible and liable for the promotion, including any violation of applicable laws, even if Facebook authorized any part of the promotion.
  • Promotions and their associated publicity must be true and accurate and not mislead or deceive.
  • A business may not Facebook's name, trademarks, copyrights or any other intellectual property in the promotion's rules or materials without Facebook's express written consent.
  • The promotion cannot: be marketed or left open to individuals who are under the age of 18 or reside in a country embargoed by the United States; promote gambling, tobacco, dairy, gasoline, firearms or prescription drugs; or award as prizes alcohol, tobacco, dairy, firearms or prescription drugs.
  • If the promotion is a sweepstakes, the promotion cannot: be open to individuals residing in Belgium, Norway, Sweden, India or a country embargoed by the United States; nor can it condition entry upon product purchase, completion of a lengthy task or any form of consideration.

Publicizing Promotions

The Guidelines draw a distinction between publicizing and administering a promotion on Facebook.  Publicizing a promotion on Facebook means promoting, advertising or referencing a promotion using Facebook or the Facebook Platform.  The Guidelines prohibit a business from in any way indicating in the promotion's rules or materials that the promotion is sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook.  The business also cannot condition promotion entry upon taking any action on Facebook such as updating a status, posting on a profile or page, or uploading a photo.  Unlike administering a promotion however, a business that merely publicizes its promotion using Facebook does not need Facebook's consent.

Administering Promotions

The Guidelines impose stricter requirements on businesses that want to administer a promotion on Facebook.  Administering a promotion on Facebook means operating any element of the promotion on Facebook or operating any element of the promotion using any part of the Facebook Platform.  At a high level, there are four steps that a business must take if it wants to administer its promotion on Facebook.  First, the business must obtain Facebook's written approval.  Second, the business must work with an account representative who will review and approve the promotional materials before the promotion start date.  If the business does not have an account representative, it can ask Facebook to provide one.  Third, the business must designate a contact person for communication from Facebook regarding the promotion.  Finally, the business must administer the promotion solely through an application on the Facebook Platform, as directed by Facebook. 

Facebook also limits how users may enter the promotion.  Users may only enter a promotion on Facebook through the canvas page of a Facebook Platform application and an application box in a tab on a Facebook page.  Thus, as explained in the Guidelines, a business that wants to administer its promotion on Facebook cannot automatically enter users who become fans, condition entry on providing user content or require people to sign up for a Facebook account before entering the promotion.

A business that wants to administer its promotion on Facebook must, in its official promotion rules, release Facebook from any liability to any participant and direct users and participants to contact the business, not Facebook, with any questions, comments or complaints.  The business must also include clear and conspicuous language adjacent to the promotion entry field and in the official promotion rules informing users that the promotion is not sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook, along with language that makes it clear that the user is providing information to an entity other than Facebook. 

Finally, a business is allowed to use the "Facebook" name only in very limited circumstances.  The business administering a promotion on Facebook is prohibited from using the "Facebook" name in the official promotion rules except to indicate that the promotion may be entered through the business' Facebook page or application and to make the disclosures and releases described above.

Facebook's Rights

Facebook reserves broad rights to modify the Guidelines at any time without notice and to restrict and control the content of promotions publicized or administered on Facebook.  Facebook also reserves the right to make any decisions regarding promotions using Facebook or the Facebook Platform, as well as the right to review promotion rules and copy at any time.  Finally, if Facebook determines that the continued marketing or administration of a promotion may be unlawful under applicable laws, rules, regulations or guidelines, or may cause unreasonable liability for Facebook, Facebook may, at its discretion, remove any materials related to such promotion at any time, even if the promotion was previously approved by Facebook.

View a copy of the new Promotions Guidelines.