Last week, Facebook amended its Platform Guidelines to bar like-gating and other incentives for users to like an app’s Facebook page. Here’s a quick overview of what’s changing.

What is “like-gating”?

In Facebook’s own words, like-gating is “forc[ing] a Facebook user who has not already liked your Page to like your Page before they can see content on a particular custom tab (or application – they’re the same).”1

What else does the change in the Platform Policy prohibit?

Section 4.5 of Platform Policy now includes, “Effective November 5, 2014, you may no longer incentivize people to like your app’s Page.” An announcement August 7, 2014, on Facebook’s Developer Blog provides additional detail. Users are prohibited from “offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page.” As “incentiviz[ing]” and “offering rewards” are fairly broad terms, it’s safest to assume that (absent further clarification from Facebook) the common practices of offering discounts, perks, or contest entry based on a Page-like are now barred.

When does the prohibition go into effect?

November 5, 2014.

What happens if I do it anyway?

Likely, the like-gating code will lose its functionality by the deadline. In addition, according to Facebook’s Platform Policy, enforcement of its terms “can include [Facebook] disabling your app, restricting you and your app’s access to platform functionality, requiring that you delete data, terminate [Facebook’s] agreements with you or any other action that [Facebook] deem[s] appropriate.”

Facebook’s change to its Platform Policy is just one more minefield that businesses and marketing firms face when planning and implementing promotions. In addition to federal rules, most states restrict lotteries, and some require state registration of the promotion. Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission required businesses to disclose when online social media endorsements are obtained in exchange for entry into a contest or sweepstakes.

The take-away? It makes good sense to vet any promotion with your legal team.