Earlier this month, Facebook announced a significant upcoming change to a section of its policies that will affect the way promotions may be administered on Facebook.  Effective November 5, 2014, “like-gating” a page (i.e. requiring an individual to “like” a Facebook page) will no longer be allowed as a pre-requisite to entering a promotion or viewing content on a page or app.  In short, Facebook has banned the practice of incentivizing consumers to like a Page. 

The rationale for this change, as stated in a Facebook developers’ blog post, is: “We want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives.”

It is important to bear in mind that a business may still encourage people to like its Page; they just cannot require them to do so in order to enter a contest or receive other content from the business.  Nor can a business give a consumer something in return for liking a Page (such as an extra sweepstakes entry).  As before, however, it will remain acceptable to incentivize people to login to an app, check in at a location, or enter a promotion via an app’s Page.

In addition to the prohibition on like-gating, Facebook also announced that games which include mandatory or optional in-app charges must now disclose this in their app’s description.

The rest of Facebook’s rules governing promotions will remain unchanged.  As before, businesses may administer promotions directly on their companies’ Page Timelines or via third party apps, but may not administer promotions on personal Timelines.

Businesses will need to come into compliance with the new rules by November 5, 2014.

Many of our clients use Facebook as a vehicle for marketing and promotions.  Some of their marketing efforts include the use of sweepstakes and contests to promote their brands.  We are here to help your promotions remain compliant with applicable law.