Facebook to Prohibit Like-Gating Promotions

LikeA recent Facebook Platform Policy change prohibits page owners from requiring a user to “like” their page in order to access content.  Effective November 5, 2014, the change will effectively eliminate contests and sweepstakes that require a visitor to “like” a page in order to participate.  This technique, known as “like-gating,” is often used as a means by which page owners increase the number of “likes,” and thus enhance their reputation and exposure.  Whether generated organically or artificially via like-gating or other methods, likes may appear on a user’s Timeline, stories from the page may show up on the user’s news feeds, and users may also appear in advertisements for that page.

A Facebook blog post explains the reasoning behind the policy change: “[T]o 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 the business, not because of artificial incentives.”

The new prohibition is part of the Facebook Platform Policy that applies to Apps on Facebook Pages, and not on-page promotions that do not use Apps, which technically means that on-page like-gating promotions are still permissible.  However, given Facebook’s stated rationale for the policy change, coupled with the FTC’s recent guidance on social media promotions – advertisers should expect to see the change expanded to address like-gating for on-Page promotions and other benefits, such as discounts or free items.

The prohibition on like-gating applies to all content provided by an advertiser via an App – not just an entry into a contest or sweepstakes.  Thus, if an advertiser is offering discounts, games, or any other custom content accessed via an App, it should not require a user to like its Page in order to  access this content. Although incentivizing Page-likes will be prohibited, advertisers are still permitted to incentivize users in other ways, such as to log in to the advertiser’s App, enter a promotion through an App, and check-in to a location via an App.

Facebook’s policy change demonstrates the evolving nature of terms and conditions governing social media advertising.   In order to ‎take advantage of the promotional opportunities of social media, advertisers and social media app developers must stay abreast‎ of these changes and ensure their initiatives comply with them, or risk the platform’s wrath.

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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