Facebook Contests Part 2: Can You Break the Rules?

By Philip Amaral

In Part 1, we looked at what you can and can’t require someone to do in order to enter your Facebook contest.

At this point, you may feel like you’re walking on digital eggshells when running your contest. Lets get hypothetical for a moment: what are the penalties for stepping outside of these guidelines, and how strictly are they enforced?

How Strict are These Rules?

Truth: we see pages running illegal contests all the time. The majority of these rule-breakers will get away with it, time and time again.

It’s not in Facebook’s interest to be hostile towards its paying customers (businesses). It’s also not easy to get Facebook’s attention by breaking contest guidelines. Facebook users don’t even have the option to “flag” your posts for promotion guideline violations – although they could submit your page for review if they really don’t like you.*

How Will Facebook Respond?

“However they want” – though the penalty will be based on the nature of your violation.

Let’s say you do somehow get Facebook’s attention with your contest, in which you openly and utterly defy the contest rules for the 9th time. There are a few different ways Facebook might respond – for example, the easiest and most lenient way to inform you of your infringement is simply to send you a message. For an excessive violation, Facebook may punish the participants or your page – in extremely rare cases, they could delete your page.

Should You Break the Rules?

With risk being minimal, and punishment (usually) lenient, is there any reason to actually follow these guidelines? The jury’s out, and you’ll probably be tempted to do it when you see your main competitor running an illegal contest, so here are a couple of reasons why you may not want to be a rule-breaker.

Firstly, anytime you breach Facebook’s guidelines, you do so at your own risk – there is always the chance that someone could report your page, and that you could be the unlucky one that Facebook decides to penalize. Beyond this slim chance, though, there’s the risk to your reputation. People who enter Facebook contests frequently may be well acquainted with the contest guidelines – and if they see you blatantly violating them, they might hesitate to trust that you’ll play fair in other ways (like deciding a winner, or even distributing a prize).

Is it a good idea to keep on walking past a “no trespassing” sign on an empty-looking lot? That, like the question of whether or not to follow Facebook’s contest rules, is a decision only you can make (;


Here are some great links for anyone who wants to learn more about Facebook’s contest guidelines:





*When Facebook does take action against a page, it is usually because that page is in total violation of Facebook’s community standards, or their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

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