A friend of mine runs a fairly popular ladies-only buy-sell Facebook group with around 40,000 members. While her group is free for members, businesses wanting to promote their items-for-sale can list their items on her Facebook group for a small fee.

Things were going fine for her until one of the business owners told her that she can’t ask for money from business owners to post on her group and what she is doing is illegal and possibly she needs a “commercial” Facebook license.  He went on to quasi-threaten her that if some people report her group to Facebook, her group may get shut. She was understandably hurt and sought my help.

Getting a direct answer from Facebook is next to impossible. There are few threads in FB help section that were answered by members. Mostly they are filled with contradicting opinions.

These are the points I could gather from my research.

At 4.4 Facebook in their terms-of-service document, clearly mentions that

You will not use your personal timeline primarily for your own commercial gain, and will use a Facebook Page for such purposes.

fb-policy

I couldn’t find a single official document regarding terms-of-use of Facebook groups. Given that FB is fine with using a Facebook page for commercial gain and there is no mention about groups, I am taking an assumption that they extend that policy to FB groups as well.

Additionally, here are some of my reasons –

  • An FB group is an opt-in group. Members explicitly ask for admin’s permission to join the group. Members have clear knowledge of what they will be getting after joining the group. Even after joining the group they can opt-out of it with a single click. Clearly, anything relevant to the group topic, posted on the group by admin cannot be termed as spamming.
  • FB admin is responsible for maintenance, moderation and in general tone of the group. All such activities take time. If an admin asks for money from other business owners who in-turn will be benefitting from it commercially. In my opinion, it clearly makes sense.

All said and done, I would strongly suggest all Facebook group owners to never base your business attached on the whims of the 3rd party. Make sure you have a backup plan.

Disclaimer: Please take this article as a friendly opinion and not as a legal advise. I am not a lawyer. All of the above is MY understanding of this topic.

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