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4 GUIDELINES FOR “LEGAL” FACEBOOK CONTESTS

by Lori Taylor · 19 comments

Summary of Facebook Promotions Guidelines (http://www.facebook.com/promotions_guidelines.php last revision:  December 22, 2009)

Disclaimer: This post provides a topline summary of the key points you need to know if you are planning on using Facebook to promote/advertise a contest.  The new guidelines limit the use of Facebook’s built in status update and commenting features in promoting and/or advertising a contest.  You should:  (1) consult the guidelines early in your planning, they will impact your timing and structure; (2) early in the process, apply for a Facebook Account Manager; (3) designate a key person as your primary Facebook Account contact; and (4) draft comprehensive contest rules that follow applicable laws regarding who can participate (age, geographic locations) and what can be promoted and offered as prizes/winnings (the Facebook guidelines offer some direction, but are not comprehensive).

(1)  UNDERSTAND FACEBOOK DEFINITIONS:

Facebook  distinguishes between “publicizing” and “administering”  — you can opt to publicize only or publicize and administer

Publicizing:  promoting, advertising, or referencing a promotion in any way on Facebook or using any part of the Facebook platform

( includes:  mentioning the promotion in Facebook advertising inventory, on a Facebook page, or through a status update)

Administering:  operating any element of the promotion on Facebook or using any part of the Facebook platform

(includes:  collecting entries or submissions, conducting a drawing to select winners, judging entries to select winners, notifying winners)

Facebook categorizes promotions as:

  1. Sweepstakes:  Based on chance
  2. Contest:  Based on skill
  3. Competition:  Based on skill
  4. Other similar offering: This has been left open-ended.

(2) UNDERSTAND TOPLINE DOS AND DON’TS

Dos Don’ts
Use third party application to condition entry to the promotion upon a user providing content  (You may administer a photo contest whereby a user uploads a photo through a third party application to enter the contest) Condition entry in the promotion upon a user providing content on Facebook such as making a post on a profile Page, Status comment or photo upload
Only allow fans of your page to access the tab that contains the third party application for the promotion Administer a promotion that users automatically enter by becoming a Fan on your page
Collect an address or email through the third party application for the promotion in order to contact the winner by email or standard mail Notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chats, or posts on profiles or Pages
Instruct users to visit the third party application to enter the promotion (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) Instruct people (in rules or elsewhere) to sign up for a Facebook account before they enter the promotion

3. PUBLICIZING ONLY:

Things to consider:

  1. No prior written approval required if only publicizing using Facebook
  2. Can use your Facebook page to advertise or reference promotions
  3. Can use advertisements to direct Facebook users to the Company’s website where the promotion is hosted
  4. Cannot represent or imply that Facebofrok is a sponsor or administrator of the promotion
  5. Cannot mention Facebook in the rules or other materials (expect as may be required for disclaimer purposes)
  6. Cannot condition entry upon taking any action on Facebook (including, updating status, posting on a profile or page, or uploading a photo)

4. ADMINISTERTING ONLY:

Things to consider:

  1. Can only administer on Facebook with prior written approval
  2. Must work with an assigned Facebook Account Manager  – apply on the Facebook website – from the page on guidelines for promotions
  3. Must submit materials to be used as part of the promotion to Facebook (Account Manager) at least 7 days prior to launch
  4. Can only administer using  a 3rd party application – on the canvas page of an application or on an application box in a tab on your Facebook page
  5. Cannot use Facebook functionality
  6. Must provide specific disclaimer language (adjacent to entry fields/in the rules of the contest) indicating that Facebook is not a sponsor
  7. Must provide a hold harmless clause releasing Facebook from liability (in your rules)
  8. Must provide language directing  all questions regarding the contest should be directed to the Company and not FacebookDFACE
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