understanding the rules: the CANs & CANNOTs of facebook

updated: may 13th.

new rules.jpg

i have posted a lot of this information in previous posts but i thought it might be handy to have it all in one spot. please note: if i have listed something as a CANNOT it means it is against facebook rules/guidelines and if you choose to do it anyways, you risk having both your user profile and your page(s) deleted by facebook.

in other words, i didn’t make these rules. i am just putting them in a handy list for you. i have linked to the actual rules down below, so you can read them for yourself. ok, here we go...

user profiles:

you CAN have a user profile (also called a personal profile) that is really you, with your real name, for your personal stuff. you signed up for that when you started facebook.

you CANNOT have more than one user profile.

you CANNOT have a fake user profile – not a name that is not you, not your biz name, not a fake profile for running your biz page.

you CANNOT have a user profile that is your biz name or some combination of your name and your biz.

you CANNOT use your user profile for making money, advertising, promoting your biz. make a page for that.


you CAN create as many pages as you like – for businesses, NPO’s, charities, tv shows you love. whatever.

you CAN choose the type of page you want to have - and now you CAN change the type of page you have set!

you CAN do business stuff on your page – sell, advertise, market, promote, discount, publicize... have at er. that's what pages are for!

you CAN give likers of your page special deals, prices, sales, etc.

you CAN customize your page.

you CAN add other admins to your page – add people you know and trust to help your run your page.

you CANNOT have fake user profiles be admins of your page.

you CAN create a username for your page – this allows you to have a nice, neat URL like facebook.com/buildalittlebiz instead of a bunch of numbers, letters & symbols.

you CANNOT infringe on another business’s copyrights with your biz name, username, logo image, or any other content on your page.

you CANNOT have a name for your page that has excessive capitalization, no captialization, or excessive use of symbols - as per the page guidelines


***note***  on may 11th 2011 facebook changed it's guidelines for promotions. this post has been updated to reflect the *new rules*.

note the following definitions:

administration = the operation of any element of the promotion, such as collecting entries, conducting a drawing, judging entries, or notifying winners.

communication =  promoting, advertising or referencing a promotion in any way on Facebook, e.g., in ads, on a Page, or in a Wall post.

contest or competition= a promotion that includes a prize of monetary value and a winner determined on the basis of skill (i.e., through judging based on specific criteria).

sweepstakes = a promotion that includes a prize of monetary value and a winner selected on the basis of chance.

what do the rules mean?

you CAN communicate about oradminister a promotion on your fb page.

you MUST administer your promotion with apps on facebook.com

  • 'apps on facebook' seems to be a framework for developers to create applications. i imagine that you can still use 'paid for' promotion applications i such as wildfire or easypromos, as well as other 3rd party applications. as i learn more about 'apps on facebook' i will update this post...

you MUST be aware of the lawfulness of your promotion (check the rules in your geographic location)

you CAN require that people like your page, check into your place, or connect to your app before entering your promotion

you CANNOT automatically enter someone into your promotion just because the like your page 

  • this means you CANNOT have a promotion such as giving a way a prize to a random liker when you reach a certain goal. your likers must choose to and properly enter the promotion.

you CANNOT ask people to take any other action on facebook to enter a promotion

  • this means you CANNOT as people to like a status update, tag photos, upload photos, update their status, leave a comment, or write on your page wall to enter a promotion. 

you CANNOT ask people to take an action on facebook to vote as part of a promotion

  • this means you CANNOT ask people to 'like' a status or image, or type vote or some other comment

you CANNOT use facebook to notify the winner of your promotion.

  • this means you CANNOT notify the winner with a post on your page, a post on their page or profile or the use of the facebook messaging system

you CANNOT associate facebook with your promotion or use the facebook name, trademark, copyright etc and you MUST include the following:

  1. complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
  2. acknowledgment that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
  3. disclosure that the participant is providing information to [disclose recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook.

so the bottom line is this: you can have a promotion. you can get people to like your page but cannot get them to do anything else on facebook. use an application or run your promo off of facebook. and make sure you include those 3 things listed above.

some other notes: 

you CAN use a 3rd party application (for instance contact tab, newsletter tab, flickr etc.) to collect info or content from your entries 

you CAN administer your promotion on your own site and communicate about it on facebook

you CAN ask likers to click on a link on your facebook page that will take them to your promotion on your website, email, newsletter, blog or twitter.

you CAN use fb to communicate the winner's name after they have been notified 

you CAN use your page to SELL your stuff however you want. these rules are for promotions with a PRIZE AND A WINNER. if you want to get people to tag, vote, like, comment, post photos, share, refer etc. as a method of selling your thing, go for it.


you CAN conduct your biz however you choose on your facebook page. but be careful – admins of pages can 'hide' your post which marks it as spam, or worse they can ban your page or report you to fb.

DON’T post too frequently – on fb 2-3 times a day is enough. anything more is spam-ish. (quality over quantity folks!!)

DON’T post unsolicited messages – unless i told you my page was for promoting your stuff (and there are pages for that) don’t use my page to sell your stuff. it’s rude. and spam-ish.

DON’T be impersonal – if you post the same message over and over while tagging multiple pages it looks like you have a robot running your biz. that’s feels spam-ish. try to be real. try to be genuine.

DON’T be indiscriminate – such as randomly tagging pages as you mention your stuff. totally spam-ish. try instead to match your post with the purpose of the page you are tagging or posting on. find people on fb who actually want to hear about your stuff.


your fb profile CAN be hacked. and your hard work can disappear, not to mention the issue of your personal information being stolen.

DO have a strong password and change it often

DON’T add accept every friend request, indiscriminately. find out how they know you first. add people that you have connected with on pages and walls.

DON’T open every link that is sent to you. a lot of links, videos, messages, quizzes are malware. if something looks fishy don’t open it. if you open something and it looks fishy, stop clicking thru!

DON’T trust every email sent to you. facebook for instance is not going to send you an email or direct message asking you to enter a new password or other personal details.

there you have it! be aware of the rules. be smart about running your page. and be safe.

do you need further clarification on something here? please leave a comment, i will do my best to help you out! =)

further reading and links to resources: