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Facebook proposed a change in its statement of rights to include this statement:

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

Clear enough. It is included with other statements that bar anyone under 13 from using Facebook, convicted sex offenders from using Facebook, and that users will use their real names on Facebook. All fair enough in pretty much everybody’s book.

No room for freedom of speech arguments here as it is a private service, albeit an Internet hosted one, but there is sure to be some sort of backlash and debate as the Facebook community always has something to say about any changes to the service. And they should- social media is about conversation, and Facebook is one of the leading social media networks.

With marketers and advertisers looking for ways to utilize Facebook, though, this is a loss. With more and more companies and independent contractors blurring the lines between social media interaction and social media business and Malcolm Gladwell- style Influencers and Connectors making their presences known in social media circles, the relationships between what you believe in, who you work for and what you do are blending.

On one level, a company paying you to post a certain status update, basically buying a commercial on your Facebook profile, seems antithetical to what social media is about. But if you are an independent contractor and want to market products that you sell and believe in, or even promote them on your Facebook Wall, does that fall under “…for your own commercial gain” ? The intention of the statement seems to be keeping users from selling their status updates to brands or companies. But it also serves to stunt any self-promotion that could profit you, a business you run, or a product you sell that you want to market.

It will be interesting to see how Facebook enforces the statement- what will they do with brand and company Fan Pages? While not “personal profiles,” will people who sell products need to set up Fan Pages to host commercial content? Where will the line be on viral Facebook marketing when a company is running a contest/promotion or has a video that people want to share?
For now the statement is a proposed change, certain to stir up debate and discussion. But if the proposed statement becomes a part of the terms of use, Facebook marketing ventures will need to adjust accordingly.

Where do you stand on this?

Facebook Marketing Loses Sponsored Status Updates