In an important development for advertisers who wish to use promotions to build their page “likes” on Facebook, the social media platform has changed its policy with regard to how advertisers may obtain a consumer’s “likes.”

For many years, marketers have often required consumers to like a company’s Facebook page to obtain access to a sweepstakes or contest entry form (typically administered through an app) or gain access to other content, such as a song, a video, or a brochure. But in an update to its Platform Policy, Facebook has placed new restrictions on the use of its “like” functionality.

Beginning November 5, page owners will no longer be allowed to “like-gate” contests or promotions or otherwise require a consumer to like a page to gain access to content via a Facebook application.

“You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page,” according to the Facebook blog. “This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page.”

Advertisers may still use other techniques to incentivize consumers “to login to your app, check in at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page,” Facebook software engineer Harshdeep Singh wrote in the blog post.

“To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from businesses, not because of artificial incentives,” Singh wrote, explaining the change. “We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.” Marketers can still ask users to like a Facebook Page as long as no incentive is offered for liking the page.

Facebook provides these examples of what is no longer allowed:

  • “Share this link on Facebook to watch the full video.”
  • “Invite 10 friends to use this app and earn 50 free message points!”

This is an example of an incentive that is allowed:

  • “Invite 10 friends to use this app and earn 50 free message points for every friend that accepts!”

The changes to the Platform Policy did not affect Facebook’s Pages Terms, which still allow marketers to administer promotions on a company’s Facebook page.

Facebook also changed its policy with respect to games. “Games which include mandatory or optional in-app charges must now disclose this in their app’s description, either on Facebook or other platforms it supports,” the company said, giving users “a clear indication that [a] game may charge people during gameplay.”

To read Facebook’s blog post about the policy changes, click here.

To read Facebook’s Platform Policy, click here.

Why it matters: This development marks a significant change in how advertisers may use the “like” functionality. For any app-based promotion beginning after November 5, 2014, the new policy must be followed. For any existing app-based promotion expected to run beyond the November 5 implementation date, we recommend that you consider modifying the entry process to comply with the new requirements. One aspect that is not yet entirely clear is whether this new policy will be interpreted to prohibit promotions where users enter by liking a post on a Facebook page (as opposed to liking the page itself to access the entry form).