Facebook Revises Official Policy Toward Alcohol Ads & Content in Apps

Facebook has just released final policy updates, originally announced in August, that for the first time allow any developer to include content or ads that promote alcohol in their Facebook applications as long as they make use of certain FBML tags designed by Facebook to prevent access to alcohol related ads and content by anyone under 21.

Developers interested in serving alcohol ads (pardon the pun) are required to use Facebook’s Demographic Restrictions feature, which is basically Facebook’s approach to age verification through the use of FBML tags to restrict content to of-age users. The feature has been under beta testing for months on the Facebook Platform, as some apps promoting alcohol have existed for a while.

In addition, starting January 6, 2009, Facebook will require that “all content related to alcoholic beverages — including unbranded, generic drink images — be available only under Demographic Restriction.” This means that “send a drink” functionality will now become something developers need to be a little more careful about.

Finally, Facebook also announced that it has added a new feature allowing developers to rely on Facebook’s stored age limits for different types of restricted content in different countries. This will keep developers from having to look up the legal drinking age in Belgium, Belize, and Botswana, but instead just tell Facebook that it’s an “alcohol” ad and let Facebook do the rest.

One important note, however, is that Demographic Restrictions are only supported in FBML – xFBML is not yet supported.