Facebook Prohibits Like-Gating For Contests and Promotions Effective November 5, 2014

Effective November 5, 2014, Facebook will prohibit the use of social plugins or any other means by which an individual must “like” a company’s Facebook page (referred to as “like-gating”) to obtain rewards, discounts or coupons, enter a contest, or otherwise gain access to an app’s or a page’s content. Facebook will disable the code that provides the functionality for like-gating. However, it has been reported by several Facebook app developers that like-gating functionality will not currently work for any new apps or promotions. As a result, promotional content must be visible to the public (not limited to a company’s “friends”) and some other form of qualification for entry must be used, such as an email address. Facebook says it is taking this step to encourage “people to ‘like’ pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives.” Facebook has previously stated that requiring a user to share a page, a personal timeline or content, or post a photo as a requirement for promotion entry is also unacceptable. Thus, the requirement to like or share a page or other content can no longer be used as a prerequisite for promotion entry. The changes announced to Facebook’s Platform Policies are available here and here.

Any current contests using “like-gating” need to end by November 4, 2014 or must be changed to comply with the new Facebook policies. In addition, broadcast stations which continue such contests after November 4, 2014 will need to disclose prominently the change in this entry requirement on its Facebook page and, to the extent such contests are mentioned or promoted on-air, the changes will need to be announced on-air, as eliminating this requirement for entry represents a material change in the contest’s terms and conditions under the FCC’s contest rules. We suggest that broadcast stations review and revise, if necessary, all official contest rules to reflect this material change.

Facebook notes that after the changes become effective, it will still be “acceptable to incentivize people to login to [an] app, checkin at a place or enter a promotion on [a company’s or an] app’s page,” but “liking” the page cannot be a prerequisite to a promotion entry. Providing bonus entries as an incentive for liking a page is also prohibited. We caution that some forms of incentive to enter a promotion may also be subject to certain state lottery laws as a form of non-monetary consideration, raising potential lottery issues under FCC rules as well as state and federal regulations.

Please contact any attorney in our office if you have any further questions or need assistance adhering to the change in the applicable Facebook policies.