New Rules for Promoting Sweepstakes on Facebook

Promoting a contest or sweepstakes via Facebook used to be relatively simple.   Because of the strict regulations governing promotions (and to diminish any third-party liability it may face for violations), the mammoth social networking site recently new guidelines for companies and advertising firms that promote sweepstakes and contests through the site.  Among other limitations, the new rules state that:

  • Companies cannot administer a promotion (collecting and judging entries, conducting a drawing, or notifying winners), unless they use an application box in a tab on a Facebook page or on the canvass page of the application.
  • Advertisers cannot automatically enter users into a promotion by requiring them to “like” or otherwise check the advertiser’s page, and entry in a promotion also cannot be conditioned upon a user’s providing content on Facebook, like a status update, photo, or wall post.   However, they can require entrants to “like” a page other than the advertiser’s before providing their entry information, and can use a third-party application for users to submit content as an entry platform (i.e., a user may upload a video to a third-party video upload application to enter a video contest).
  • Companies are  prohibited from using Facebook to communicate with winners through messages, chat, or posts.  They are now required to communicate with winners via e-mail or means other than through Facebook.
  • Companies are also prohibited from administering a promotion directed to users under the age of 18, and conducting a promotion where the prize or any part of it includes items like gambling, alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, or firearms.
  • A disclosure must be placed adjacent to any promotion entry field which states that “Facebook in no way sponsors, endorses, administers, or is associated with the promotion. You are providing your information to [disclose recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook. The information you provide will only be used for [disclose any way that you plan to use the user’s information].”
  • The promotion rules must also include a complete release of Facebook by each entrant and participant.

Anyone familiar with the strict regulations governing sweepstakes and contests imposed by the individual states, the Federal government, and other countries can easily understand why Facebook drafted these rules.  The liabilities imposed for improper promotions can be severe.

Author: Seth Heyman
Seth D. Heyman is a California attorney with extensive experience in advertising and marketing law, corporate law, contracts, governmental regulations, international business, and Internet law. He has counseled numerous successful companies, both public and private, and was responsible for regulatory compliance, contract management, corporate governance, and HR best practices for multiple organizations in many diverse industries, including marketing, telecommunications, energy, and technology development. He offers insight and guidance on federal and state direct mail, TV, radio, telemarketing, and Internet marketing laws, as well as online promotions, Internet privacy, data protection regulations, and similar matters.

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