Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Facebook Free Ride is Over

Remember Facebook--the free platform you can use to post whatever you want, in whatever format you want, for free? Remember all the limitless possibilities for engagement it promised brands? Yeah, well stick a fork in that memory because it's done; Big Brother Facebook just announced some new rules that require you to get their approval before doing any kind of contest or promotion.


I'm still wondering if I'm reading the post on Inside Facebook wrong because there seems to be almost no reaction anywhere to what I find to be absolutely intrusive and ridiculous rules. Since when do users have to ask Facebook permission to do anything? Since when do they get to stipulate where you will or will not post a certain type of content? And most importantly, since when do they get to tell people that the only way they can post certain content is to pay a third-party?

In case you don't feel like clicking any of the links above, here's an excerpt from the new guidelines:
You may not administer any promotion through Facebook, except that you may administer a promotion through the Facebook Platform with our prior written approval. Such written approval may be obtained only through an account representative at Facebook. If you are already working with an account representative, please contact that representative to begin the approval process. If you do not work with an account representative, you can use this contact form to inquire about working with an account representative. If we provide you such approval, you agree to the following:

3.1 You will only administer the promotion through an application on the Facebook Platform, as directed by us.

3.2 You will only allow users to enter the promotion in the following locations on Facebook:

3.2.1 On the canvas Page of an application on the Facebook Platform.

3.2.2 On an application box in a tab on a Facebook Page.

3.6 You must submit materials for any promotion you plan on administering through the Facebook Platform to your account representative for our review and approval at least 7 days prior to the start date of such promotion. Promotions not approved in writing within such time period will be deemed unapproved.

Here's the thing: this is no big deal to big brands with big budgets for stuff like this, or to people who are already paying an agency to administer their Facebook pages and/or to develop applications. But to nonprofits who don't have money to spend on third-party applications, I personally think it's a significant loss.

Maybe I'm naive or just flat-out mistaken, but as far as I know this is the first time that Facebook seems to be saying, in so many words, "if we're not going to make money off this, you can't do it." Yes, I realize that they're requiring you to pay not them but the third party app developers, but please--tell me that they're not getting a cut of that money somehow. Why else would they be doing it? I just don't buy the "we're just trying to keep the News Feed cleaner" thing.

So that contest you were planning on running by having people leave a comment about such-and-such then picking a winner from there, or posting photos or other content? Forget it. Now you have to pay to play.

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