We’ve all done it. Browsing your Facebook feed a picture pops up. Maybe it’s from a page you like. Maybe a friend shared it with you. Maybe it was a promoted post. But you saw it and you did it.
You clicked Like so you could win something.
The prize didn’t matter. Bejeweled Blitz coins. A coupon for free sushi. Sunglasses. Cruise discounts. Books. Art. You probably didn’t win but you figured it was easy enough to enter.
What you didn’t realize was that you were helping commit a crime.
Okay, not a full on crime. Rather, you were assisting in the violation of Facebook’s terms and conditions. Don’t worry, you didn’t do anything wrong. The brand that ran the contest did though.
For many years Facebook required promotions (contest and sweepstakes) to be run through Facebook applications. You were not allowed to use Facebook functionality to enter. That means “Like to enter” or “Share to enter” or “Post a photo to enter” or “Comment to enter” were all violations of Facebook’s terms. If Facebook found out about them, they shut it down–but these contests/sweepstakes were too easy to set up and Facebook doesn’t have a dedicated police force to seek out bad promos.
And we’ve all entered them. Many may have been small companies running a contest. Sometimes they were scam pages looking to pull data from fans (when you Like a page that page can pull a lot of data from your profile). Every so often you would see a major brand run a contest that violated the terms as well. Pepsi did that a few times and they got pulled down. Scams typically got pulled eventually or if they received enough traffic. Small companies mostly got away with it.
I used to guess why Facebook had this restriction. Maybe because apps had better privacy controls than page Likes. Maybe it was some legacy tech issue. Doesn’t matter now that Facebook has changed the terms to allow these promotions to take place.
There is still one remaining restriction brands should know about. Facebook is concerned about promotions that lead to inaccurate photo tagging. For example, promotions that use a photo of a product and encourage users to tag themselves or others in the photo (even though those users are not in the photo) are not allowed.
Which means those sweepstakes will still go on and they’ll still be unauthorized. Perhaps Facebook will try and crack down on these more than the past, knowing that they have permitted more activities so they will try and crack down on the one category they are trying to restrict. Or perhaps enforcement will be unchanged and you’ll see plenty of these promotions populate your Facebook feed.
But now, before you enter, you’ll know that the sweepstakes is unauthorized. Whether that makes it more or less appealing to you is up to you. Facebook doesn’t judge.