Isn't the use of this plug-in a violation of terms on must SocNETs?

I asked this question on the official announcement post, but thought I'd get a faster and possibly better answer to the question here:

Isn’t this a violation of pretty much all SocNET’s TOSs? Granted, it will work if what you keep from your visitors is good enough, but still… Doesn’t seem right to me. Just wondering if folks might get themselves in a bit of trouble. ...After reviewing heaps of Facebook's various terms (finding several instances of this language) I've come to the conclusion that this DOES violate their terms.

IV. Application Integration Points
You must not incentivize users to use (or gate content behind the use of) Facebook social channels, or imply that an incentive is directly tied to the use of our channels.

Within the same document, Facebook goes on to say:

V. Enforcement
We can take enforcement action against you and any or all of your applications if we determine in our sole judgment that you or your application violates Facebook Platform Terms and Policies. Enforcement action is both automated and manual, and can include disabling your application, restricting you and your application’s access to Platform functionality, terminating our agreements with you, or any other action as we in our sole discretion deem appropriate.

I’m pretty sure everyone else covers this issue in about the same way, and the way this is written Facebook could not only kill the specific offending connection, but also all other connections you have with them, and even your account.

  • Arun Basil Lal

    Hello jonhardison,

    I wonder how deeply you had to read to pick this up. Sharp eyes.

    Have a look at this page:

    The page has the very same policy statement you quoted. The page also says:

    Users should not grant permissions or communicate with their friends because they want to receive an unrelated benefit offered by the app. Many users receiving incentivized communications generally regard them as spam, which hurts their experience with your app.

    Instead, you should ask users whether they want to publish a Feed story after they have taken a genuine action that may be associated with an award.

    The Pay with a like plugin does ask the user before the content is posted. The policy is against all those apps that posts on friends walls and does the spammy stuff without direct user permission.

    What pay with a like is clearly different and the user knows its implications. No breach of code here :slight_smile:

  • jonhardison

    Hi Arun:
    To be honest, I had to dig quite a bit, but that's more because of the way Facebook splits up their documents. LOL!

    I guess my concern is more for those that don't consider the ramifications of this plug-ins use. After-all, how the plug-in is used or implemented at the end of the day has nothing what-so-ever to do with you. But on reading this plug-in's description I got that "icky feeling" that comes with tactics that, in effect, attempt to force a visitors hand rather than allow actual reward.

    All that being said, it's up to the end user. You guys emailed a great article on a bad plug-in about a year ago. It was one that would automatically issue a like from any visitor to a site that was logged into Facebook at the time of their visit. People needed to know that there was something wrong with that idea, so you (WPMUDEV) made sure to put out an APB on it and explain it.

    In this case, while there many not be a problem in your view, I'd call this borderline at best. Things like this are addressed in so many ways within Facebook's various docs, when you look at them in aggregate, it would seem it is a violation. It is, at the very least, not in keeping with the spirit of what they were trying to do when they created these opportunities.

    As an example, if a user follows the advice of how to use this plug-in and puts a coupon behind a like button, they are, in fact, in direct violation of several of FB's terms, and they'll probably lose their FB account as a result.

    All I'm saying is that folks should be aware that this can be dangerous.

  • Arun Basil Lal

    Hey Jon,

    I am afraid, I have to disagree with you here again, but as long as we are not throwing stones at each other, its healthy. lol

    As per the Facebook terms, its totally valid to put a reward behind a like. So I disagree on this point:

    As an example, if a user follows the advice of how to use this plug-in and puts a coupon behind a like button, they are, in fact, in direct violation of several of FB's terms, and they'll probably lose their FB account as a result.

    Even Facebook pages are set-up exactly this way. Haven't you seen those pages where a user likes the page and gets access to some cool stuff? Its totally legit.

    Again, the only violation of Facebook terms can be when the action happens without the users knowledge. As you mentioned, if a Like is sent on page-load, that's in-valid.

    No matter how users use this plugin, the end user will always know before the "Like" is made and that is totally valid, no matter what the reward is.

    Back to my original quote:

    Instead, you should ask users whether they want to publish a Feed story after they have taken a genuine action that may be associated with an award.

    So again I would say, nothing to worry here, from what I have read so far, no harm can come out of using the plugin. :slight_smile:

  • jonhardison

    Definitely not throwing stones. LOL! Just concerned. To be completely honest, no. I don't like the practice, but I'm not one to stop someone else from using it. To each his or her own.

    If it's alright with you, there was one line in one of FB's documents that eluded specifically to benefits of a financial or discount nature being placed behind like buttons that I'd like to find again, just so you and anyone reading this doesn't think I'm pulling this stuff out of my butt, but other than that, I'm satisfied that I've voiced my concern and that we've managed a civil discussion about it. :slight_smile:

    Again, just to reiterate, I'm not throwing stones with this question, but seeking clarification for the general social safety of the membership. Considering the possible uses, it's probably better that folks think about potential issues beforehand.

    Thanx again.

  • Dean Kaus

    Hello @jonhardison and @Arun Basil Lal
    I have an invisible stone shield so you can throw them my way however I prefer chocolate.
    I don't think that it should be a problem with the like button or in violation of FB policy. I don't recall when it started but almost a year ago I set up a business page (has to be linked with a personal account) and they allowed a teaser page where if someone wanted to see the content of that page for a special offer or such they had to like your page. Then the content was unlocked and they never say the LIKE ME sign up page. I also used an email newsletter that I had sent out with an incentive to like my page and had no problems. From what I understand anything other than using a shopping cart to sell your goods on Facebook is ok if it drives more traffic to FB.

    You'll also notice that the ad's that appear on your page are based on comments you make and especially if you like a comment or like another business's page. After I started receiving several likes then I was approached by FB to participate in some ad's and even asked me to fill out a questionnaire about my likes and dislikes of the business page's.

    All in all if you don't represent anything that would be immoral I don't believe that this should be a problem either. After you're not preventing anyone from accessing FB. If your offering isn't objectionable to those who LIKE your page (in other words don't make something sound so good and then pull a bait and switch)

    If you're still concerned just send an email to FB and simply tell them what you want to do and they will respond.

    The verbage as was explained to me was to keep out the spammers etc...

    On another note look at all of the apps that they allow directly from their site! I mean some of these things have permission to view and send out sales information to every one of your friends. FB supports that, so again I really don't think this should be an issue. Let me know if you find out anything different.

  • jonhardison

    With Google, this isn't a TOS violation, less when you use discounts or other financial incentives. Then it is a violation:

    Publishers may not direct users to click a Google+ Button for purposes of misleading users. Publishers may not promote prizes, monies, or monetary equivalents in exchange for Google+ Button clicks. For the avoidance of doubt, Publishers may direct users to a Google+ Button to enable content and functionality. When a Publisher directs users to a Google+ Button, the button action must be related to the Publisher or the Publisher’s content. For the +1 Button, the content or functionality that is enabled for the user must also be accessible to any of the user’s social connections who also enable it.


    I'm still digging for Facebook's. Can't find that doc again. Uggg.

    @dehayst: Actually no. Again, I'm not saying not to use the plug-in. I'm simply asking if it's a violation and stating out loud that it "could be" an issue, but legally, WPMU isn't making you use the plug-in, so it's on you. Keep in mind, there probably wouldn't be a warning or anything. Unless you're going to watch for TOS changes, you'll probably just lose your account.

    I'm tired and think I'm probably coming off as the internet police which isn't my intent. So far, most seem to agree that while this practice might be okay in some situations, it's probably not the best idea in the long run. I just wanted to bring this point up because I'd hate to see thousands of people lose their social accounts because they simple didn't take the time to think about it and research it.

    WPMU puts out good products for the most part and in this case, the fact that they've released this plug-in could be taken by some to mean that it's okay to use it however they see fit. Truth is, that's not the case. Some (perhaps many) implementations of this plugin will violate TOS's and no; WPMU is not legally responsible for your losses.

    @Arun Basil Lal: I wonder how many others might think you guys are on the hook if something bad should happen. Might be a good time for a little clarification.

    @Dean Kaus: Agreed. It wouldn't be a problem on your business page, but the guidelines for use outside Facebook are entirely different. They're covered by separate policies and are far more strict. You CAN do this (in specific ways) on your business page, but those rules don't apply on your own site.

    Okay. I've beaten this horse enough. Back to work for me.
    Just do yourselves a favor and read all the docs. At the end of the day I don't care what you do, but if reading this thread make you a little safer... I feel much better. :slight_smile:

  • dehayst

    I think you've answered the major risk factor yourself above. It's highly likely for the majority of WPMU users that Facebook would simply choose to terminate the account vs. seeking any damages since few of them produce any real capital. Maybe an attorney should jump into the conversation. Regardless of who is at fault though I'm sure WPMU would have weighed out any risks associated.

    @jonhardison - In case you haven't spent a lot of time defending yourself from allegations in a court of law. I can assure you... the simple burden of having to pay for defense can be as costly as any potential settlement. So I can only assume WPMU takes that into account. It's not always who's right or wrong. It's the mere inconvenience and costs of proving it, especially if someone well funded just wants to drag it out to bleed you from spite for losing a Facebook account.

    BTW, here's a "similar" plugin that made its way into the WordPress Repository -

  • jonhardison

    @Dehayst: Agreed, and that's why I posted Google's example of how NOT to use a +1 button. This is the only place where WPMUDEV "could" find themselves liable for damages associated with this use of this plug-in because they recommend placing financial benefits behind these buttons in their product description. But even that depends on the state you're in. Most states attitude is that the bungee salesman is never responsible for injuries associates with its use. You should know the risks.

    Other than that, (and a lawyer should jump in if possible) a case against WPMU for the lost of an individual's social account(s) arising from the use of this plug-in would not make it through the initial filing in any state.

    So if you wanted to file against them because you lost your Twitter and Google accounts, you would pay your attorney (who wouldn't take the case) and all filing fees. Then your case would be closed by the Judge at a cost of $0.00 to WPMU. As a member here, I'd recommend going back through WPMU's agreement with us as well. Even if a plug-in is designed to hurt you (and they aren't), there is no case to be had.

    In this, as in all things, "buyer beware". You are responsible for protecting yourself.
    I've never had to defend myself in court because I've always done just that.

    Okay, Adobe Creative Cloud (CS6) released today and I've got a crap-load of work as a result. Have fun. Be careful. Peace. :wink:

  • Hakan

    Hi all,

    Please note that likes are not shared on your Facebook, or whatever social website page. They are shared on visitor's page.

    There is no connection between the buttons and your accounts. Did you see any setting about it in Pay With a Like?

    So what is said here is impossible:

    So if you wanted to file against them because you lost your Twitter and Google accounts, you would pay your attorney (who wouldn't take the case) and all filing fees.

    Impossible, simply because there is no Twitter or Google accounts connected to the buttons. This is also true for Facebook and LinkedIn. So how can they ban an account which doesn't exist?


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