Facebook Is Holding Us Hostage

There are many legal policies Facebook enforces that I understand the need for. However it seems like for every legitimate piece of legal dogma, Facebook has two more that are utterly mystifying. Take for example Facebook’s updated policies on cover photos for business pages. The cover photo guidelines enforce a strict set of visual restrictions that quell any type of traditional promotion. These regulations are especially bewildering from a design standpoint. As long as photos are not explicitly offensive why should standard marketing techniques be banned?

My heart goes out to all the graphic designers and social media managers of the world who are tasked with explaining to executives why their businesses cover photo got pulled down. Especially because if I were in their shoes, I would have no idea what to tell them besides “I guess Facebook didn’t like it.” Maybe I just don’t understand the complexities of Facebook’s strategies, but at least give us some kind of reason why I cannot design a cover photo with contact information. In an effort to further understand these new policies, below I have highlighted the especially confusing restrictions with what I believe is the reason why Facebook has applied them.

Cover Photos Cannot Include

“References to Facebook features or actions, such as ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features.”

This policy may be in conjunction with preexisting regulations against misleading and misinforming cover photos. Facebook may want all cover photos to have unified visual elements, essentially creating static billboards. Facebook may also fear that users would reject the obvious advertisement, however a business page is basically already a Facebook sponsored advertisement.

“Price of Purchase Information, such as ‘40% off’ or ‘Download it at our website’.”

Facebook has already taken steps to incorporate social commerce into the site. This policy could be in response to Facebook’s rumored development of ecommerce applications. The idea is that Facebook wants to keep you at Facebook. If you are linking out in your cover photo or offering deals at your website, that boosts Facebook’s bounce rate.

“Calls to action, such as ‘Get it now’ or ‘Tell your friends’.”

Again this must have to do with Facebook maintain control over commerce through their site. Calls to action can signify that the user should leave Facebook and visit their site. This policy can cast a wide net over businesses looking to use Facebook as just a tool to get traffic to their site.

“Contact information such as website address, email, mailing address, or information”

The Facebook guidelines recommend that you put all of the above information in your ‘About’ section. This could be due to the fact that Facebook may want businesses to keep cover photos empty for future sponsored ads. Other than that I cannot think of why Facebook wants to restrict this information from cover photos.

“Covers must not be false, deceptive or misleading, and must not infringe on third parties’ intellectual property.”

This is really the only policy that makes sense to me. The rest however seem like either matters of Facebook vanity or an advanced effort to keep people from going to any other sites besides Facebook.


Do you have any thoughts on why Facebook is enforcing these policies? Let us know below or tweet us at @NewRockstars

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