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Facebook to Ban All Commercial Activity on Personal Profiles?




If Facebook follows through on its announcement, it may soon ban all commercial activity in personal profiles.

Buried among many proposed changes to the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (SRR) you’ll find the following suggested addition:

You will not use your personal profile for your own commercial gain (such as selling your status update to an advertiser).

While TechCrunch points out that this would prevent users from accepting payment in return for advertisements posted to their update status, it may go well beyond that. Let’s look at the sentence again, but with some highlighting:

You will not use your personal profile for your own commercial gain (such as selling your status update to an advertiser).

So basically, you won’t be able to use any part of your personal profile for commercial gain. Facebook gives sponsored status as an example, but the wording “such as” suggests this is just an example and not the only thing limited. What does that mean? If you’ve built up a vast network of friends on Facebook you won’t be able to use that profile to promote your company, your consulting, or anything you stand to gain from financially.

You could argue that Facebook Pages are the place for commercialism, but I know lots of people–admittedly marketers–that have built-up their profile on Facebook as a means to help them earn new business. And, what’s next? What if Twitter follows suit? I, for one, would be completely up the creek without a paddle, if Twitter ever decided to ban commercial gain within its profiles.

I’ve cautioned before that you should never invest so heavily in any social media platform that it would hurt your business, should things change. I’d say this is a strong case for that argument, don’t you think?

  • http://www.ignitesocialmedia.com Brian Chappell

    This is going to be an interesting development to follow.
    .-= Brian Chappell´s last blog ..Facebook Search vs Twitter Search – Side by Side Comparison =-.

  • http://twitter.com/siliconedgeuk Matt Wooller

    If marketers can no longer use personal profiles for commercial gain business pages become more important to them, Is this paving the way for Facebook to eventually start charging for business pages?
    .-= Matt Wooller´s last blog ..siliconedgeuk: July compete data is out, more signs of Twitter growth slowing, Linkedin result from more people job-searching? http://bit.ly/JhFUE =-.

  • Mike Conaty

    Beyond your status update, I wonder how this effects those of us with company Fan Pages attached to personal profiles. Will I have to move that page to a new “business” profile? Would posting anything about my small business be a violation? Will have to follow this a little closer now.

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    @Matt – you could be on to something. Or, it could just be that FB is trying to prevent spam from proliferating.

  • http://www.terryhoward.net/ Terry Howard

    I wish I could subscribe to the theory that this is some kind of move to pave the way for an adept business move to ring more profitability out of Facebook, but I think the reality here is that this is more of the same: Social Media Platform companies wringing their hands over commercialism (too much Noam Chomsky in school I guess) while simultaneously whining about not turning a profit. If you’ve ever dealt with their advertising platform you would know, masters of traffic monetization they are not.
    .-= Terry Howard´s last blog ..Formula For Success =-.

  • http://www.avantless.com patrickdh

    Best to enable users with built-in user functionalities to maintain the network clean from abuse – that’s something twitter could use.

  • http://alphonseha.com Alphonse Ha

    Social Media is made to be social. Not to sell. To say that you should never invest so heavily in any social media platform that it would hurt your business, should things change is wrong.

    Use the platforms the way they are supposed to be used, without trying to trick the system, and you will be fine.

    Whoever says social also says networking and creating relationships. Facebook and Twitter are made to create relationships, to create trust. You can carry your business onto your website and via e-mails.

    Developing trust and maintaining a relationship is 90% of business anyway. You can take care of that on social networks.

    It is like being invited for super at your in-laws, you don’t want to talk business there anyway, you want to develop a relationship and develop trust. Then you have them over to your office (your website).
    .-= Alphonse Ha´s last blog ..Facebook Search? Watch Out Twitter and Google! =-.

  • http://blogfred.com Mark Leonard

    I just want to give my 2 cents worth.

    All of my facebook friends are business people. I socialize with business people.

    My real friends are else where.
    .-= Mark Leonard´s last blog ..aaa wrote a new blog post: Classic Women’s UGG Tall Boots 5815 chestnut =-.

  • http://www.theistudio.cm/muse/ Judith

    Hmmm…. Then why have the choice of “networking” available for one to designate why they are on FB from within their profile? Networking can be viewed as commercial.

    FB has been sending mixed messages on their profile vs. pages gig since the custom URL gold rush was released. While my profile is “theistudio” which is my trademark, I know of another developer who is not allowed to have her trademark URL pull her profile because FB says it isn’t allowed. She has been told she can only have her trademarked name URL pull a business page not her profile like I do.

    The only difference between us is she actively is offering discounts to new customers who become a “fan”. I do not make any offers.

    This lends credence to the concept that something is up to separate personal from commercial/business on FB and may not yet be in stone or being consistently applied — just yet.

    Never a dull moment — dontcha just love it! ;-)

  • http://www.jaankanellis.com Jaan Kanellis

    So what happens is you do? They just shut your profile down without telling you? Warnings???
    .-= Jaan Kanellis´s last blog ..“Google Caffeine” The Next Major Search / Algorithm Update From Mountain View =-.

  • http://www.pointblankbusinesstechnology.com Tommy Toy

    My origininal purpose for signing up for Facebook was to network with potential clients or get referrals. I have known about Facebook’s ban of members using their profile for commercial purposes for quite a while. I just figured everybody knew about it. This is the primary reason that I have used Twitter and MySpace much more than Facebook.

    My strategy has always been to post via articles and subject matter that are relevant to Twitter members. I consult for a living and my theme is venture capital, finance, mergers & acquisitions, hot industry sectors, company and people profiles, marketing strategy, technology, inventions, consumer products, electronic gadgetry, services, rumors, gossip and so forth.

    Facebook has teeded off its members in the past, then had to apologize and retract. I have no doubt that Mark Zuckerberg has a lot to do with these policy changes. If he wants to lose a lot of members, Twitter, LinkedIn and MySpace will be more than happy to take them.

    Tommy Toy
    PBT Consulting

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000061503797 Tony Beach

    I’m on my 19th Facebook account…..I threatened to sue them for One Billion twice now……they’re getting involved with a network marketing company deeply and the competition is in trouble!

  • http://BigEyedDad.Posterous.com BigEyedDad

    Let’s look at this like I do, as a 20-something who doesn’t work in marketing:

    If I want to talk to a business, I’ll find their business page. That said, I don’t think that this is an attempt to stop professionals from talking to one another on Facebook. As Facebook’s improved search launches, people are probably just afraid that it’ll go the way of Twitter–shameless fake persona’s and fake links trying to trick people into coming across a company’s landing page.

    I think it’s a step in the right direction, personally.

  • http://HelloHelloInfo.com Tina Kilcup

    FaceBook has become a place for both parties. Social and Business, wheather they like it or not. I do know if they crack down they will Loose a HUGE amount of people over to other social sites. So I believe they won’t crack down. I can’t believe a company would terminate people because they have made business friendships. But if they do there are Plenty of other sites who will be HAPPY to greet them with “OPEN” arms. One off the top of my head is http://HelloHelloInfo.com created with the Business person in mind!! Time will tell.

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  • http://www.marketersmojo.com Angela Wills

    I actually only started on Facebook to connect with old friends and NOT for business. A lot of my friends use it to post pics of family, connect up for events (non-business) and I actually feel really weird promoting my business – like that annoying person at the part trying to sell their MLM stuff to you.

    I had my blog feeding into Facebook for a couple of months but I just had that feeling it was weird for those I connected with so I stopped just a few days ago, funny how this announcement comes out now. It won’t affect my business any not to network on Facebook, I just never saw it as the right place to focus my efforts.
    .-= Angela Wills´s last blog ..New Service, New Website! =-.

  • http://www.flimp.net Matt Shaw

    Considering the number of power bloggers, consultants, freelance journalists, and small business owners who use Facebook, I have to doubt that there will be a clause in the SRR that will prohibit self-promotion. Now, how FB will go about filtering spam from self-promotion is another animal altogether. It will be interesting to watch.

  • http://www.AskJamesHolmes.com James Holmes

    Andy –

    Wow! Great information that I was not aware of and I suggest taking reasonable steps to be ahead of the curve. I have just recently set up a facebook page (aka fan page) to begin to segment my friends into two categories, personal and business or niche. I have recently become concerned that as I reconnected with old friends and family members that they were not feeling imposed upon with my business activities. In addition, I thought it would be nice to have a place where only my personal friends reside, so that I can share a bigger slice of my personal life with them such as photos from private family events, etc.

    Based on what I have read here, I will likely expedite the process of inviting the majority of my profile contacts to join my page and then remove them and all commercial activity off of my personal profile. In the end it might make for a more rich experience on facebook from a family and personal friendship perspective.

    Thank you for your post!

    James
    http://Twitter.com/AskJamesHolmes

  • http://www.internet-marketing-sales.com Awev

    Here we go again. First it was how they worded the terms of service that gave them ownership of anything published using their interface (does that mean they now own trademarks, or can use my trademark without compensating me). Now, unless you are a professional student, never plan to work, nor ever plan to sell anything (not even your stamp collection), then you can have a personal account.

    I have chosen not to use FB after the last set of rule changes earlier this year, now I have another reason to stay away. Just as well, as I only have 24 hours in a day, and it is better spend where I can see a real return on my time.
    .-= Awev´s last blog ..Greetings from Internet Marketing Sales (IMS) =-.

  • http://www.anytypeofloan.co.uk mark harrison

    I applaud this move from Facebook and it is something that Twitter should follow because for me at least, Twitter is just one big streaming mass of spam. If Facebook makes a stand then it has a chance of becoming the social networking tool of choice for both business and personal use.
    .-= mark harrison´s last blog ..Big bad secured loans =-.

  • Katharine

    I am currently researching how social networking and in particular, facebook, impacts on the commercial world.
    Why have facebook imposed this ban? what exactly does it mean? will club promoters have to stop? can people sell spare tickets to events via their status’?
    how will this change social networking’s role in the commercial market?

  • http://www.beefrecipes.net karen’s beef recipes

    I’m not quite sure what to think about this, but i do know that facebook became too big too fast. The quantity (and quality) of the information they keep on users just amaze me and the laws are not there yet to stop them. Now almost every tv show has it’s facebook group, i can’t recall a day in the last year where i didn’t hear the name of the site on tv. Good food for though, what will happen with all this.. i can’t wait to see!