3 Ways Your Business or Organization May Be Violating Facebook’s Terms of Service

The Terms of Service. They’re long, sometimes cumbersome and full of sentences so long that you might feel you need a sandwich and a compass to make your way safely through them.

But.

Terms of Service also define the relationship between you and the provider. They tell you how your privacy will be protected, what you can or can’t do while using the service and what happens if you violate the rules you agree to honor.

Facebook’s Terms are easy to understand. And still, every day (and I do mean every day) I see businesses and other organizations endangering the communities they are growing by flagrantly violating the Terms they agreed to when their Facebook presence was created.

What does violating Facebook’s Terms look like?   I’ve provided 3 of the most common examples I see each day.

Building community on a Profile instead of an Official Page
Facebook says, “Profiles represent individuals and must be held under an individual name, while Pages allow an organization, business, celebrity, or band to maintain a professional presence on Facebook.”

Facebook also says, “You will not use your personal profile for commercial gain . . .”

If you are a business, organization or cause currently building your Facebook community on a Profile instead of a Page, you stand to lose everything you’ve gained when Facebook identifies your violation.  All the time and effort you’ve spent collecting Friends, loading images and creating community will have been for nothing when Facebook identifies the violation and the Profile vanishes.  Save yourself the headache, create a Page.

Running an unapproved contest on Facebook
Facebook says, “Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or an app on a Page Tab”

No matter how small a promotion, contest or sweepstakes seems to you – from how you can ask users to participate and what prizes can be awarded to how you can contact winners, Facebook has rules for you to follow.  Start here by reading up on Facebook Promotion Guidelines.

Tagging people who aren’t in an image, without their permission.

Facebook says, “You can tag a photo only with the express consent of the user on whose behalf you are doing the tagging, and must only tag images when the tag accurately labels what is depicted in the image.”

Tagging your Friends in the photo logo of a cause to promote awareness of that cause is not only a violation of Terms but can be reported by those you are tagging as abusive behavior on your part – which brings your violation to Facebook’s attention and opens your Page’s content to review.  It’s spammy.  Just don’t do it.

The bottom line?

If you are using Facebook for business of any kind, treat it like a business tool.  Read the Terms before you sign them.  Obtain the necessary permissions and rights when administrating a promotion or contest of any kind.  Understand that you can lose all or part of your Facebook presence if you don’t honor the agreement you sign.  At best, Facebook will remove the content that violates their Terms; at worst, Facebook will remove your entire presence and there’s no getting it back.   A full list of Facebook’s Terms is available for review at any time.

Have you taken the time to read and understand the Terms for Facebook  and other online platforms you participate on?

About the Author

LisaDJenkinsLisa provides print, social and digital communications for destination organizations and businesses in the travel and tourism industry. She doesn't make the tools of the trade, she makes the tools of the trade work for her clients.View all posts by LisaDJenkins →

  • http://www.kelseygrafton.com Kelsey Grafton

    Thank you, Lisa. These have been very helpful insights along with handy links to the bigger picture.

  • Info

    Dear Lisa, thank you for bringing this subject to my attention. I surely will keep these pointers in mind when starting my FB. See you there…

  • Julie

    I guess I am confused because according to these same terms and conditions you can not have multiple pages or both a personal profile and a business page. I would image some people have set up to use their because of this reason. I have left my business page behind last year because of this reason. Any thoughts?

  • http://www.LisaDJenkins.com/ LisaDJenkins

    Thank you, Julie, for stopping by! I’ll tell you the time I put into reading and researching Terms of Service for all the platforms I employ on behalf of my clients is extensive and sometimes tedious but necessary for the protection of those same clients. Let’s see if we can get you comfortable with understanding your Facebook presence :)

    Profiles are for individual people, must be held under an individual name, and each person may have only one. Pages are for businesses and must be created using the Profile of an authorized representative of the business as Administrator; not only is it possible to have both a personal Profile and a business Page, it is how Facebook directs you to structure your presence.

    While there is currently no limit to the number of Pages you may create for your business, I strongly suggest you carefully consider the effect that fragmenting your Facebook presence will have before you create more than one; deeply responsive niche markets within your client base may (but only may) be a reason to consider this.

    Business Pages do have some limited communication constraints; I support those limits because the last thing I want when I open my Facebook Messages is to be inundated with a slew of unwanted, off-topic pitches and advertisements from businesses whose idea of marketing is to lay down a line spam 4 inches thick across the internet. In exchange for those limits I get Insights to help me learn how my clients’ content is consumed, what their fans like, what they ignore, etc. I use the overall picture from those Insights to help drive and refine their marketing strategies.

    I, personally, don’t have a Facebook Page because, while I do enter into business discussions, I don’t do business on Facebook – I do that here, on my blog. I don’t sell merchandise or my services, I don’t promote special offers, I don’t run contests and I don’t ever contact prospective clients using my Profile. If you do any of these things using your Facebook Profile, then I suggest you move those particular activities over to a Page, where they belong before Facebook removes both your Profile and your Page.

    Does that help?

  • Julie

    Thank you Lisa! It does help a lot as I did not get that same definition from the terms. I will definitely think about how and what I will do exactly. I agree with you and do not like a full inbox with sales pitches. I will not add to them.