Yesterday Facebook announced yet another change to its Terms of Service, officially permitting ‘share and win an iPod’ / ‘like and win a date with Bashar al-Assad’ type contests.
To be completely honest, this is less of a policy change than a clarification of the mess that was the existing Facebook policy in this area.
Like this post for free clarification
Sure it’s been collective wisdom that these have been prohibited for years now, but let’s not forget it took a few updates to the Terms of Service for Facebook to clarify what exactly the incredibly helpful ‘you will not condition entry to the promotion upon taking any action on Facebook’ did and did not allow.
Even then, brands were still allowed to run contests of this sort via an app on the Facebook platform, just not directly on a Facebook timeline or fan page. Plus, Facebook is not God and I doubt anyone reading this has failed to see at least one or two still publically running despite the ban. It follows that these were also the shadier type of contests that Facebook was particularly intent on removing from people’s timelines – why would any legitimate business risk being banned from the world’s largest social network?
Despite whatever initial cynicism I personally held towards the move – let’s just acknowledge the big, fat, IPO-saving elephant in the room that is paying to boost post visibility and move on – it’s good to see Facebook at least making some attempt to clarify its position in this area, as well as introduce some firm ground rules.
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Liking, commenting and messaging the brand page, host user or link itself are all fair game, but tagging is not. The jury is still out on where sharing will fall between these two areas, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it will fall under the same ban as tagging, for two reasons.
First of all, whilst it might not always seem that way, Facebook is acutely aware of how users experience its service and will not actively alter a rule that will permit mass spamming of its user base.
Secondly – folks, cynicism detectors at the ready – Facebook is clearly seeing a positive financial effect from the monetisation of its users’ timelines, therefore encouraging contests that effectively bypass its latest revenue stream would be a bizarre and out of character step.
Like this post for a free meal
Which leaves one last question: should you now run that contest for a steamy meal for two with Mr Assad? Even if you could trust him to behave for the duration of your contest winner’s dinner, you may wish to first consider this approach from the perspective of your audience and whether the return for your business is worth the investment.
Regardless of whether it is permitted or not, this remains the method of choice for the more unscrupulous Facebook scammers and promoters. Therefore, I would strongly encourage linking to your own competition landing page if you want to ensure you’re putting across an acceptably scrupulous image.
After all, even if everything in Syria blew over and its leader got himself a socially acceptable job, would you want to be the first one to take him on a date?
photo credit: FindYourSearch