This article details how to comply with Facebook’s contest rules within the United States and Canada. It is not a substitute for, nor intended to be, legal advice. If you have questions, consult with a legal professional or use a managed Facebook contest platform.
Facebook contests and sweepstakes can be a great way to attract attention and promote your page. They can also create legal problems if you don’t follow the rules and regulations. Not only does Facebook have its own set of rules, but so does the government.
In fact, there can be different regulations depending on the type of promotion you want to run. Contests are promotions where a winner is based on merit, such as answering a question correctly or voting. Sweepstakes winners are determined by random drawing or luck.
Facebook promotions must include the following items:
- Official Rules for your contest
- Terms of the offer and eligibility requirements, such as age limits or residency limitations
- An announcement that Facebook is not sponsoring, endorsing, administrating, or associated with the promotion
- A complete release of Facebook for any liability regarding the contest by each participant
You can read Facebook’s guidelines here to conduct contests, or to set up a Facebook contest app or Facebook competition app.
Promotions can be included on pages or within apps on Facebook. You may not use your personal timeline or friend connections to run the promotion. For example, Facebook forbids contests that ask you to share on your timeline to enter, or share on your friend’s timeline to get additional entries. The social media platform also bans tagging friends in posts to gain entry.
Make sure you check state or province laws on contests as well. Rules and regulations are different in different places depending on jurisdiction.
Facebook will not help with your contest. By conducting a promotion on Facebook, you are doing so at your own risk.
Legal Requirements & Online Contest Laws
Such promotions are regulated by a variety of governmental agencies. If you think it’s not that big of a deal, check out some of the penalties levied against companiesthat didn’t follow the laws on sweepstakes apps, giveaway apps, or social media contests.
Steven Bennett, a partner at the Jones Day law firm has put together a great primer on sweepstakes and contest laws in the U.S. The Ontario Bar Associations has a similar guide for rules and regulations in Canada. You’ll still want to check with your state, local, and federal agencies for compliance:
- Federal Trade Commission
- Department of Justice
- Attorney General in your state
- Competition Bureau
- Criminal Code
- Specific Province regulations
There’s a Better Way to Handle Promotions
If this sounds confusing or complex, it can be. One way to avoid the hassles is to use a third-party platform or marketing pro that can streamline the process and make sure you’re following all the rules and regulations.