Does 'Likeing' on Facebook violate "No Purchase Necessary"?

I really enjoyed the thorough answer to “Why do contests say “no purchase required”?”.

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed but, practically EVERY online contest now insists on the user "LIKE"ing their product on Facebook. You cannot enter these contests if you do not have a Facebook account. As many of us know now, when you “Like” something on Facebook, your metrics are basically ‘sold’ to that company and your general profile grows in value for all the other companies that pay Facebook money to use and advertise using these metrics. Which brings me to my question:

Isn’t having to “LIKE” a company on Facebook to enter a contest, the same as having to ‘purchase’ something from the company? Or, in other words, violating Rule 3, giving “consideration” to the company in exchange for winning a prize.

The simple fact that almost every contest now demands a “LIKE” should say something about what is going on here. Gone are the days of just giving that company the basic information about yourself to enter a contest. I realize you could just create a fake Facebook account to enter contests, but that completely misses the point here to the fact that I think companies have found another loophole to the ‘no purchase necessary’ clause. And that is to make you give them all of your data from Facebook…which is way more valuable than you buying their candy bar to enter.

I would love to get the FCC to add releasing metrics beyond name, address, and contact info, as having to “purchase” something.

Thanks for listening!


How much does it cost you, in monetary terms, to “like” a page on Facebook? If the answer is $0 how can you consider it a purchase?

If you consider your personal metrics, private info, and family/friend details, collected over the course of several years at absolutely no value whatsoever…then you are correct.

I don’t even use Facebook for the reason that I consider my data valuable. Because of this, I cannot enter the contest. I realize the service is free, but that is at the cost of letting Facebook use whatever you have entered into it, for ANY purpose they see fit. The “Like” button is the release form. The real question you should be asking is why ONLY Facebook? Why not Twitter, LinkedIn, or even Google logins? Why isn’t there an alternative to having to enter ANY other service login? The reason being that none of these services are as valuable (or as willing) as Facebook is at releasing all of your data and metrics (yet).

I hope you realize that your data IS currency to corporations, with the financial institution being Facebook for exchange. That is why I consider it a purchase and therefore a violation of “no purchase necessary”.

AIUI, the legal standard is that you can’t have to pay to enter, but that it’s okay to ask you to do something you’d ordinarily do. Once upon a time, we printed writing onto chopped up and bleached trees, and put a token denoting some unit of remuneration paid to the US government onto an outer envelope, and like magic, it was whisked away to be delivered to the person whose name and location appeared on the outside. This is why many AMOE’s (alternate means of entry) are mail-based.

The Facebook Page Guidelines details what you can and can’t do. E.iii states:

You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app. For example, you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall.

So, you can require liking a page, Facebook is cool with it. FTC is likely cool with it because you can get and use a facebook account for free, and “liking” a page on Facebook is an ordinary activity. Still though, many grown up promos have a true NPN (no purchase necessary) option that allows you to sidestep liking a page. Almost every Wildfire sweep will allow you to enter through an AMOE in the rules that takes you to the same entry form, without the like button on it.

What you can’t do is the whole “like/comment/share” thing. You can’t use a like as a means of entry. This is why real grownup sweeps use a canvas app to collect the demographics. Pages routinely violate the promotions guidelines, but no one ever hears of pages getting smacked by Facebook, so it continues unabated.

I guess I’d agree as far as that goes, but in 99% of cases “no purchase required” is a minor technicality anyway. I’m not sure what implementing this ruling would change.

Getting sellers and Facebook et al. to disclose that personal information is valuable, especially living links to one’s online presence and other connections, would be a bigger result. Most people have very limited and naive ideas about their online information and its value to marketing.

Great answer! Thank you!

I guess that I am just running into every contest that DOESN’T have an AMOE. Every one of them has been using the forced condition of a LIKE button. Which led me to asking this question in the first place.

Completely in agreement.

Speaking as a page owner (though not the owner of a commercial page), I cannot see any personally identifiable information (beyond what you already release to the general public) simply as a result of you liking the page. All I can see as far as my “likes” go is a) who liked the page, and b) aggregate statistical data about all of the people who liked the page.

So if you don’t want companies to have that sort of information, simply don’t expose it to the general public; keep it restricted to your friends.
Powers &8^]

I have experience with Facebook in multiple use cases: I’m a consumer, a page owner, and an advertiser. Even if you restrict information to friends, Facebook still has access to it and uses it for serving up ads. If I wanted to publish an ad that was targed to males who were 20-30 who live in a city and liked “escorts” to help get my pimp business off the ground, I could do that (assuming facebook didn’t put the kibosh on my ad). I could then also target ads to men who are married and are 40-50 about a “dating” service that’s got guaranteed discretion.

Don’t assume that folks are only squicked by their data being accessible by the general public. There’s any number of reasons why data aggregation, in the aggregate, is a bad idea.