Our Blog

27 May 2011

Facebook Contests – Are You Violating Terms of Service?

Facebook Terms of Service
Facebook’s Terms of Service have expanded and later simplified over the years just as their promotions guidelines have changed. As a brand that uses Facebook it’s essential to become aware of both and have someone on your staff stay up-to-date with the changes as they happen. I discuss this topic a bit more in my book, “Facebook for Business: A How-To Guide” (available in the Vertical Measures store).

Just this week I came across a few brands that were in full violation of the TOS and promotions guidelines. Seemed like an appropriate post to inform and instruct how to avoid these potentially costly violations. So without further adieu….Below is a list of several common violations to steer clear of. If I’ve missed any, feel free to add them in the comments below!

Like My Comment So I Can Win

Sure, it seems harmless: running a contest for a free hotel stay at an area resort. All a user has to do is post a comment to the hotel’s wall and invite their friends to “Like” their wall comment. Most “Like”s on your comment wins.

Problem: This will require friends to not only “Like” the hotel’s Page, but also “Like” their friend’s comment. Using the “Like” as a vehicle to enter a contest is not allowed. Violation of condition 3, 4, & 5 of Facebook Promotions Guidelines.

Like Our Page to Enter

Again, very harmless: a simple contest that requires users to “Like” their Page, and they’ll be automatically entered to win an iPad.

Problem: Using the “Like” as a vehicle to enter a contest is not allowed. Violation of condition 3, 4, & 5 of Facebook Promotions Guidelines.

Comment On Our Page to Enter

You’ve seen them before, contests that require users to comment on a brands wall to enter into a contest. Enter to win a free laptop just by commenting on our wall!

Problem: As a condition of entry or registration, Pages cannot require users to comment to enter. Violation of condition 4 of Facebook Promotions Guidelines.

Check into Our Facebook Place Page to Enter

With the growing popularity of Facebook Places check-in contests are starting to grow in popularity as well. Check in and you’re entered to win a free meal at our restaurant!

Problem: You cannot use Facebook features or functionalities as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism.

Register Through Our App

Simply register to win by clicking our custom App for your chance at a free Facebook vacation! Click through the prompts and you’re done. (No mention of Facebook release).

Problem: Promotions on Facebook must include a complete release of Facebook by each person who enters, acknowledgement that the contest isn’t sponsored by Facebook, and disclosure that none of the information collected is not used by Facebook. In addition, mentioning Facebook’s name or trademarks is forbidden. Violation of condition 2 & 7 of Facebook Promotions Guidelines.


The solution to many of the above Facebook contest problems is to create a custom App that requires users to register directly within it, and has the required items under Section 2 of the Facebook Promotions Guidelines. Companies like WildfireApp.com and Involver.com provide solutions to these issues for somewhat minimal fees if you lack the ability to develop an app on your own.

What contest examples have you seen that violate Facebook TOS and Promotion Guidelines?