It has been almost eight months since Facebook issued its revised Page Terms pertaining to promotions. These were significant changes in the way sweepstakes and contests can be conducted on Facebook. One of the major changes was the removal of the requirement that the promotion had to be administered on apps. This and any other changes were widely publicized in announcements by Facebook and in numerous articles, blog postings, and shared comments. Nevertheless, there appears to be a considerable amount of confusion about what the current guidelines require. Some of this confusion may be from people who are still using guidelines in place in August, 2013 and who don’t realize that the guidelines have been revised.
Others may be confused because they have never actually seen the new rules (and perhaps not the old rules for that matter) and instead, may be relying upon third parties’ interpretations.
In the interest of bringing everyone up to speed, below are the Guidelines that were last revised on March 3, 2014.
- If you use Facebook to communicate or administer a promotion (ex: a contest or sweepstakes), you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including:
a. The official rules;
b. Offer terms and eligibility requirements (ex: age and residency restrictions); and
c. Compliance with applicable rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered (ex: registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals)
- Promotions on Facebook must include the following:
a. A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
b. Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
- Promotions may be administered on Pages or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines must not be used to administer promotions (ex: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend's Timeline to get additional entries” is not permitted).
- We will not assist you in the administration of your promotion, and you agree that if you use our service to administer your promotion, you do so at your own risk.
As you may have noticed, the current Guidelines do not mention the requirement that a participant “likes” a page, comments, or posting in order to enter a sweepstakes or contest. I routinely receive questions and different points of view as to whether “liking” a Facebook page can be requirement to enter a sweepstakes or contest. The previous rules prevented this specifically, but the new rules are silent about using “liking” requirements.
Thus far, Facebook has not strongly enforced its promotion guidelines. However, losing the opportunity to have your sweepstakes or contest on Facebook could be a severe penalty to pay for not complying with the rules.
For those reasons, it is important to contact a lawyer who is familiar with sweepstakes and contest law and well versed in the compliance requirements of the Facebook Guidelines for those promotions that are designed to be hosted on Facebook.
This post was written by retired Thompson Coburn partner Dale Joerling. If you have any questions about the topics discussed in this post, please contact Thompson Coburn partner Hap Burke.