Even in the "Wild West" that is Facebook advertising, there are indeed established laws regulating how you market your product, service, or cause. And renegades should beware: Failing to adhere to these can result in warnings, requests for immediate action, suspension, termination/disablement (of an application, for example), or just plain user turnoff—perhaps the most viral and permanent of penalties.

Here are a few examples from the field that demonstrate what to avoid when launching your campaign on Facebook.

1. Infringing on Intellectual Property Rights

This first one pretty much goes without saying, but in case there's any doubt: The legal rights bestowed by regulatory trademarks and copyrights are binding in the social media realm.

In 2008, one application met its doom, first in North America and later worldwide, for failing to observe those laws.

Scrabulous, which bore resemblance to the well-known game Scrabble, came under fire from both Hasbro and Mattel for producing a version of the game without the companies' permission. (Hasbro has trademark rights for the game in the US and Canada, while Mattel's extend to the rest of the world.)

Inside Facebook reports that although Hasbro and Mattel asked Facebook to disable the application, and Facebook responded by restricting access to some users, the companies ultimately took the matter into their own hands—and to court—and in August drove the Calcutta-based developers to take down the application completely.

Facebook has since responded by clarifying and beefing up its related policies.

2. Pretending to Be Someone You're Not

Facebook explicitly states that applications must not be designed "to impersonate any person" or "in a manner that is misleading, deceptive or fraudulent."

A recent situation concerning College Prowler, a Pittsburgh-based university guidebook publisher, makes clear that a similar policy should be followed in the case of Facebook pages and groups.

The investigations of Winthrop University and Butler University staff brought to light that representatives for College Prowler had created more than 250 "Class of 2013" Facebook groups for various colleges and universities. The groups gave no mention of College Prowler or its intentions for establishing the groups, thus leading users to assume that they had been established by either the colleges or incoming freshmen.

College Prowler claimed its plan was merely to "use these groups as a way to inform students that they can access a free guide about their new college." But this type of activity was not well received by Brad J. Ward, coordinator for electronic communication at Butler University, who announced the scandal on his blog SquaredPeg.com on December 18, 2008 and then proceeded to involve the media, landing stories in, among others, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Wired, and Inside Facebook (the content of which was also widely syndicated).

College Prowler CEO Luke Skurman responded by issuing an apology and removing its administrator privileges from all "Class of 2013" groups, according to a statement he posted on SquaredPeg.com (December 19, 2008), but not before receiving a fair share of negative press.

3. Violating Users' Privacy Rights

In the previous example, university officials such as Brad J. Ward were largely concerned about the privacy rights of unsuspecting students, and especially data collection. Facebook has shown that this is a prime concern for the network, as well, and that it aims to ensure that all users benefit from appropriate safeguards.

Inside Facebook wrote on July 25, 2008 about several popular applications—including "Top Friends," a social mingling application—that were suspended over the summer for "violations of Facebook's privacy policies," according to a Facebook statement.

"Top Friends," which at the time was considered the third-largest application on Facebook, had apparently provided users with access to non-friends' personal information. CNET News, which alerted Facebook to the violation, wrote that it was "able to use Top Friends to pull up profiles of Bobby Jindal, the Republican governor of Louisiana…; Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg; Jonathan Heiliger, Facebook's vice president of technical operations; and what is believed to be a page for [Paris] Hilton."

As a result, "Top Friends" was temporarily removed from the network, until Slide, the company behind the application, complied and rectified the shortcomings.

4. Flouting the Accepted Rules of User Engagement

On January 8, 2009, Burger King launched the "Whopper Sacrifice" application, which offered coupons for free Whopper sandwiches if Facebook users deleted 10 of their Facebook friends. The application then notified each nixed friend and spread word of the event via users' news feeds.

Although Whopper Sacrifice was an instant hit, registering 82,000 users in its first (and only) week, Facebook forced the application's development team to remove its functionality just one week after launch.

In a statement issued to Inside Facebook (January 14, 2009), a spokesperson explained that the network "must ensure that applications meet users' expectations," and that "after constructive conversations with Burger King and the developer of the application, they have decided to conclude their campaign rather than continue with the restrictions we placed on their application."

Also in line with conforming to user expectations, Facebook policy dictates that applications may no longer offer incentives to users for inviting friends or adding profile boxes, etc.

"There is an implicit social contract you should respect as a facilitator of user-to-user interactions, and in the trusted relationship you have with your user," reads a July 21, 2008 Developer Blog posting by Paul C. Jeffries. "Facebook is about empowering and connecting people through the sharing of information. That's undermined if users who receive an invitation or other communication suspect it was sent for an ulterior motive, such as gaining points in a game. Similarly, because users represent themselves through their profile, they shouldn't be goaded into adding a tab or other integration point just to see content they could have seen anyway, or in trade for some unrelated benefit."

The policy further applies to application ratings, as illustrated by the "Snowball Fight" application, which was found to be in violation for providing extra "snowballs" to any user who gave the application a 5-star rating. On December 9, 2008, Inside Facebook reported that the application had been disabled.

"Application developers cannot trade positive reviews or collude with others to post, incentivize, or otherwise 'game' the posting of negative or positive reviews. Applications should stand on their own merits based on user feedback, not insider quid pro quos," Platform Developer Operations & Support stated on the network's developers' forum.

* * *

The good news for lawful citizens is that Facebook is implementing more controls for establishing trust between users and companies who market on the site.

In November 2008, for example, Facebook launched an optional Application Verification program, which will reward compliant applications with a certification seal, similar to the VeriSign logo used on e-commerce sites.

In addition to a badge on the application's "About" page and alongside its listing in the Facebook Applications Directory, Facebook is offering increased visibility in news feed stories; higher request, notification, and email allocation limits; and, at least for the time being, a $100 Facebook advertising credit.

Time will tell whether this badge will carry the same weight among Facebook users as the VeriSign logo does for online consumers, but it's a step in the right direction as Facebook aims to become a reliable and responsible channel for all involved.

Now that you know some of the things to avoid when marketing on Facebook, take a look at twelve companies that have benefited from strategically using Facebook as part of their marketing mix. Simply download Facebook Success Stories (FREE) from the MarketingProfs Store to learn how companies have used Facebook to forge stronger relationships with customers, increase awareness and reach, target niche markets, and test new products. As a Premium Member, you have free access to this and hundreds of other templates, tools, case studies, research, and "how-to" guides to help you rapidly build effective marketing programs.

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Kimberly Smith is a staff writer for MarketingProfs. Reach her via kims@marketingprofs.com.