Facebook Revises Promotions Guidelines, Again

On May 11, 2011 Facebook announced that it was again revising its Promotions Guidelines. In setting forth the new guidelines, Facebook stated, "We have simplified Promotions guidelines to make them easier to understand and consistent with the format of other Facebook Terms & Policies. We removed specific prohibitions on certain types of promotions (e.g. alcohol, dairy, gambling, & gasoline). The new guidelines make it clear that promotions must be administered using Facebook applications, with either a separate tab on the company's brand page or on an app canvas page. Promotions cannot rely upon Facebook features or functionality for entry, competition, or notification. For example, an person cannot be entered by "liking" a brand's page, checking in to a specific place, uploading a photo, or commenting on a wall. The "like" button also cannot be used as a voting mechanism according to the guidelines, and winners cannot be notified via Facebook by message, profile post or page post, or by chat. Therefore it is important to collect the entrant's information at the point of entry. Under the new guidelines, Facebook continues to set clear boundaries on the use of its name and trademarks, which cannot be used "in connection with a promotion or to mention Facebook in the rules or materials relating to a promotion, except as needed to fulfill your obligations" under a section of the rules. In addition, advertisers must release Facebook from liability and state that Facebook does not sponsor the promotion. Previously, the promotion guidelines prohibited advertising or marketing of a promotion to those under age 18 or to an individual residing in a country embargoed by the United States. These guidelines also barred the promotion of sweepstakes that were open to residents of countries like Belgium, India, Norway, and Sweden. Under the prior Guidelines, sweepstakes conditioned upon the purchase of a product were also banned, as were prizes or promotions that involved alcohol, gambling, tobacco, firearms, prescription drugs, dairy, firearms, or gasoline. We previously reported on the prior revision that took place on December 1, 2010. The May 11, 2011 Facebook Promotions Guidelines can be found here. IMPORTANT TIP: Because advance consent from Facebook is no longer required, the revised guidelines will make it easier to run promotions on the Facebook platform. Keep in mind however that the promotion must comply with these and other Facebook requirements as well as the laws governing sweepstakes and contest promotions. Before starting any promotion, it is important to review the promotion's structure and draft a set official rules specific to the promotion. For assistance on your next promotion or to learn more about The Lustigman Firm's Sweepstakes, Promotion, and Social Media Law practice, click here.

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