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Facebook Moves Celeb, Influencer Profiles Under New Branded-Content Policy (EXCLUSIVE)

Facebook is now officially letting public figures with Verified Profiles — including actors, athletes, musicians and digital influencers — share branded content with their followers, as long as they adhere to the social service’s policy for advertiser-sponsored posts.

The move is an extension of Facebook’s branded-content rules adopted in April, which ban aggressive marketing tactics and require publishers to tag marketing clients in sponsored posts. Those initially applied to Verified Pages, and now individual Verified Profiles are subject to the same rules.

Facebook is positioning the change as a way to let celebs and other popular personalities make more money from branded content, under a framework that provides full transparency. In addition, according to the company, the system lets publishers, verified individuals and advertisers better track and optimize such paid-for promo content.

But mainly, it’s a bid by Facebook to get a cut of the action. The company doesn’t get any revenue from branded-content deals directly, but with the new system Facebook is hoping advertisers or publishers will pay for broader promotion of the sponsored posts across its 1.7 billion monthly user base.

In addition, the policy is aimed at ensuring Facebook and its partners don’t run afoul of government regulations. The Federal Trade Commission last December released guidelines for native internet advertising, which mandate that sponsored content includes “clear and conspicuous disclosures.” Facebook noted that as branded content rolls out to Verified Profiles, “publishers and influencers will continue to remain responsible for understanding their legal obligations to indicate the commercial nature of the content that they post.”

Facebook defines branded content as any post — including text, photos, videos, Instant Articles, links, 360-degree videos, and Live videos — featuring a third-party product, brand or sponsor.

Recent examples of branded content governed by the new rules on Facebook Verified Pages include Lady Gaga with Bud Light (pictured above); U.S. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps with “Call of Duty”; actress Tamera Mowry with Gerber; reality-TV personality Lauren Conrad with Hallmark; and actor Josh Duhamel with Jeep.

Facebook’s updated Branded Content Policy imposes several restrictions, and the social giant reserves the right to delete posts that violate the terms.

Among other things, it requires that posts clearly disclose the sponsorship (such as within a post’s text), and product placement in images or videos must be tagged using Facebook’s Branded Content tool. The policy forbids pre-, mid- or post-roll ads in videos; banner ads in videos or images; and third-party products, brands or sponsors from appearing within a page or verified profile’s cover photo or profile picture.

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