In the past few days several major Facebook pages have been taken down due to the violation of the network’s promotion guidelines. These pages include Pizza Hut India, Myntra, Cadbury Bournville, and FCUK India. Why would Facebook do this? Why would they be so strict in ensuring that pages follow promotion guidelines?
Here are some of my thoughts on Facebook’s promotional guidelines which will help you understand the recent event better. It will state the guidelines followed by my explanations.
“Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or an app on a Page Tab.”
So basically you have to use an application to administer a promotion (contest, competition etc). What is the logic behind this?
As a page owner, shouldn’t I be allowed to run promotions on my business page? For example, sending gifts to fans who are celebrating their birthday today or fans who say “yes” to attend an event in my retail outlet today. Right? Wrong.
The purpose of executing promotions via apps is to ensure business owners respect users’ data. This means that the information (from the promotion entries) will not be public, and instead will remain within the application. In the case when Facebook admins ask and/or use information that is not required for the promotion, their applications will be taken down. This policy basically gives the social network a much better monitoring view on the data that the users share.
“Promotions on Facebook must include the following:
- A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
- Acknowledgment that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
- Disclosure that the participant is providing information to [disclose recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook.”
This is a pretty simple and logical ‘terms and conditions’ statement. The promotions are being executed by the page admin and Facebook cannot be held responsible for any data or actions that are performed as part of the promotion. Just like an indemnity clause.
“You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant.”
“You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app. For example, you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall.”
The two points mentioned above are pretty similar in nature, but why would Facebook have an issue if I say that you have to “Like” my page before entering the promotion?
Here is the logic: Several pages are using ‘spam tactics’ to promote their pages. For example:
- Share a page with your friends and you can participate in the promotion
- Tag your friends on an image of our page and you are eligible to participate in the promotion
- “Like” these five pages and then you are eligible to participate in the promotion.
In order to cut down on spam, this very important policy works to keep Facebook relatively spam-free, making sure that the user experience remains great.
“You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.”
Why not? After all, winners are often chosen by a count of votes and there is no easier way of voting than using Likes. The logic stands correct if the voting mechanism was used with the right intent.
Today most of the pages will choose Likes for voting just because they want this to appear on the walls of friends of fans and so it can go viral. The Like feature is being abused by many pages. Thus features like “Likes”, “Comments”, “Tags” etc. can no longer be used of promotions.
“You must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles or Pages.”
What’s wrong in notifying the winners? Aren’t we supposed to notify them? This is the clause to prevent Facebook from taking on any responsibility of any mishaps that happen on the network, especially due to cases where they have very little control.
Let’s understand this with an example. Assume that you win a million dollars in a sweepstakes promotion held by a major brand that has millions of fans. Will you want this information to be publicly available on a social network? Will you be safe from people who will start ‘spying’ or ‘threatening’ you? Even if you are okay, Facebook will never be fine with that.
“You may not use Facebook’s name, trademarks, trade names, copyrights, or any other intellectual property in connection with a promotion or mention Facebook in the rules or materials relating to the promotion, except as needed to fulfill your obligations under Section 2.”
This is pretty straight forward policy. Of course, you can not use Facebook’s intellectual property (IP) in any way, or for that matter, anyone’s IP.