- Facebook updated its branded content policy to prohibit publishers and content producers from accepting payment to post media they didn't create, according to a post by the company. Facebook added the following rule to its policy: "Don't accept anything of value to post content that you did not create or were not involved in the creation of, or that does not feature you."
- The company in March will crack down on branded content on Facebook and its Instagram platform that violates the updated policy, according to Marketing Land. Publishers or creators that continue to violate the policy may be banned from the social network or limited from accessing Facebook's monetization tools. Those features include the labeling tool to tag branded content, track its performance and run it as an ad.
- Facebook will rely on its own system to recognize a business relationship between two Facebook pages to identify when branded content violates its updated policy, a company spokesperson told Marketing Land. Violators of the policy can appeal the social network's decision.
Social influencers and publishers that accept payment from marketers to post content on their Facebook pages have grown much more popular in the two years since the social network dropped some of its restrictions and added a branded content tagging system. Facebook said the number of publishers and creators posting branded content to the platform each month grew fourfold last year, Marketing Land reported.
The definition of "branded content" left many loopholes for social influencers and content creators to exploit. The term was supposed to mean an article or video that a brand paid a publisher or creator to produce and distribute to their Facebook followers. As the social network discovered, content creators were posting other items like links to a product page on a brand's e-commerce site, making a sponsored post nearly indistinguishable from a paid ad.
Facebook has grown more sensitive to how its platform is being used and abused in recent months, particularly after revelations that the social network was a main purveyor of "fake news" with targeted ads from foreign influencers during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The company also has to contend with the possibility that the Federal Trade Commission will scrutinize its business practices after issuing multiple warnings last year about the behavior of social influencers and their sponsors. The influencer industry, which includes platforms like Facebook and Instagram, needs to consider the FTC's endorsement guidelines to avoid becoming a target of future complaints.