Last week, Facebook announced some good news for businesses that use the social networking site to administer competitions, sweepstakes and other promotions.

Under Facebook’s previous terms and conditions for Pages, the Facebook pages created and driven by "bands, businesses, restaurants, brands and celebrities" to connect with fans and customers, businesses were only able to make promotions through an application that connected to their Page. Although promotional interaction with personal timelines, such as "share on your Timeline to enter" or "share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries", is still prohibited, businesses can now make promotions directly through their Page. Businesses can launch a promotion on their Page and collect entries, via users: (a) posting on the Page directly or "liking" or commenting on a Page post; (b) sending a message to the Page; or (c) casting a vote by "liking" a post on a Page.

For some businesses, these changes will be welcomed. Employees tasked with competition administration may be more familiar with the business’ Page than external applications and the process will no doubt be quicker, simpler and cheaper. However, legally the changes may make compliance with data protection laws slightly more complex, because launching competitions though applications compels users to "accept" competition terms and conditions and the business’s privacy terms. User acceptance via third party applications is usually given expressly through a click wrap system or is implied by drawing users’ attention to links to applicable terms. Collecting data, such as email addresses, will also be hampered through the new process.

In adding a new method for collecting competition entries, Facebook has also removed one. To promote accuracy in content, Page terms and conditions have changed so businesses are now prohibited from tagging users, or encouraging users to tag themselves, in content the users are not actually depicted in. This means businesses should not offer users a chance to win a competition by tagging themselves in a picture in which they are not featured.

The negative impact on third party application companies may see many of them struggle to keep up with the changes. It is expected that those which can adapt will continue to serve businesses in promotional activity, by offering applications to administer Page promotions and application prices will no doubt be forced to become more competitive.