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Friends don’t SPAM friends – don’t be that person

You accept a friend request from someone you are in a Facebook group with.  Then it starts – you receive promotional material through messenger… is this ok?  I didn’t think being friends with someone meant that they could send me promotional messages…can they?

NO they CANNOT! It is SPAM.  In fact, it is DOUBLE SPAM!

What?! DOUBLE SPAM? Is that a thing?

Kind of – I made up the term.  But there are two different types of SPAM and you can be engaging in both, in sending one message.


Messenger, Instagram and Facebook are all products of Facebook and are governed by the same terms.  When you use social media for any business or commercial purpose (including managing a group) there are specific terms that apply.  These include, commercial terms, advertising policies and community standards.  Facebook’s SPAM policy can be found in its Community Standards and is based on limiting the distribution of misleading or false information to build likes, followers or shares.

SPAM according to Facebook includes things like:

  • Doing things to artificially increase post distribution
  • Attempt to create connections, create content or message people
  • Encourage likes, shares or clicks under false pretences
  • Restrict access to your content by requiring people to like, share or recommend it before they can view it.

What happens if you SPAM through Facebook?

You can have your account suspended or disabled without warning.  You are also exposing yourself to financial penalties.  When you have a Facebook account you actually give Facebook an ‘indemnity’, which is a promise to pay.  You agree with Facebook that if they get sued for something you do through your account, you have to pay Facebook’s costs.  Hmm…makes you wonder if those ‘likes’ are truly worth it?!

But what’s the other type of SPAM?

SPAM According to the Law

The thing about SPAM laws in Australia, is that certain messages are prohibited, but if you meet certain requirements it is ok.  Here’s how it works:

The starting position is that: Unsolicited commercial messages must not be sent.

What is a commercial message?

If you develop a message for any of the following purposes, it is a commercial message:

  • Offering to supply goods or services
  • Advertising or promoting goods or services
  • Advertising or promoting the supplier of goods or services
  • Promoting a business opportunity or investment opportunity and
  • Advertising or promoting the provider of a business opportunity or investment opportunity.

What if promoting my product is not the only purpose?

It doesn’t matter if advertising your services is not the sole purpose.  If any of the elements above form part of the purpose of the message, it will be a commercial message.

Isn’t SPAM just emails?

No!  The restriction on sending unsolicited commercial messages includes email, text messages and instant messaging accounts.

So when is not SPAM?

Your message won’t be SPAM if you have consent to send the message to the recipient.  There are two ways consent can be obtained:

  1. Express – this is your “opt-in”, “yes please email me”, “I want to hear from you”.
  2. Implied – this is where there is no express consent but it is reasonable to infer that consent has been inferred from the conduct and the nature of the business relationship.

OK, so when I accept a friend request – it is implied that I consent to receive promotional messages?

NO!  Not in my view.  Why?  When I sign up to a mailing list, or like a business page on social media I expect to receive information about that business.  When I accept a personal friend request on social media from a business owner, I expect to see non-business related posts on your personal page.  I also don’t expect to receive business related messages through instant messaging.

Even in today’s technology, there are still boundaries that exist – including the fact that social media “friends” should not SPAM me.