Update to Facebook Promotion Guideline Changes: Restrictions on Some Categories Such as Gambling Remain

Facebook made a significant update to its promotions guidelines last week, deleting blanket clauses that previously prohibited the promotion of some types of products and the targeting of minors plus those in some countries. The company is basically removing itself from being a middle-man between marketers and widely varying laws that apply across the world.

However, some promotions now admissible by the promotion guidelines are still prohibited by Facebook’s other governing documents, including its Statement of Rights and ResponsibilitiesAdvertising Guidelines, and Platform Policies. Though the change was designed to simplify the promotion guidelines, marketers must comply with all documents, not just that one.

We’ve confirmed with Facebook the points below, as well as that enforcement hasn’t changed, and the alterations to the promotions guidelines do apply to all channels, including Page updates, applications, and ads.

Some Minors Can Receive Promotions

Advertisers no longer need to request exceptions for promotions targeted to minors, as long as they continue to follow all laws and other regulations in the jurisdiction where they’re running the ads. This means that if a marketer wants to target a promotion to minors in a country that allows such promotions, Facebook won’t stand in their way.

However, the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act requires that all web sites that collect information about users preclude those under 13 years of age, and Facebook does comply with this law around the world (although note that Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg would like to change it to reach younger users — who are widely observed to be on the site, lying about their ages).

Despite Many Ongoing Restrictions, More Opportunities for Previously Prohibited Categories

Alcohol, tobacco, gambling, dairy products, prescription drugs and gasoline were previously banned from being either the consumer prize, the marketer objective of the promotion, or both. That wording has been removed from the promotion guidelines, but most of the restrictions remain due to clauses in the other governing documents.

Though certain states and countries prohibit promotion of these products, marketers are free to run campaigns endorsing or offering if local laws and Facebook’s other documents permit.

Take the case of gambling promotions. They are allowed by the promotion guidelines, Section III.A.3 of the Platform Policies bans them “without limitation,” but the Ad Guidelines provide a caveat: “without authorization from Facebook.” Therefore, an app couldn’t promote gambling, but if an advertiser gets permission from Facebook to run a gambling ad (provided that it follows all relevant other laws), it could point to an off-Facebook gambling promotion. However, since the Platform Policies cover all social plugins and other parts of the platform, a gambling promotion site could not use Like buttons to get users to share gambling promotions back to Facebook.

Marketers looking to target minors or those in restriction-heavy countries, or seeking to promote the previously restricted products should carefully cross-check all of Facebook’s governing documents and the local laws to ensure their campaigns aren’t subject to enforcement by Facebook or legal repercussions from local authorities.

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