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To be sure they were complying with US Food and Drug Administration policies — which ClickZ notes are not clear on digital media — pharmaceutical companies with Facebook pages would ask Facebook to disable commenting on those pages. "That not only prevented patients from submitting critical comments, but also obviated the need to counter those comments — which in turn prevented a crackdown from FDA types keen to make sure that company comments conform to marketing rules," says this article at FiercePharma. BNET also notes that some companies have even asked Facebook to have the "like" button removed.

Facebook, however, says it will no longer disable commenting, also called whitelisting, on brand sites, and sites with disabled commenting will have it turned on again by August 15th. "We think these policy changes support consistency for the Facebook Pages product and encourage an authentic dialogue between people and businesses on Facebook," says an e-mail from Facebook posted at Intouch Solutions. The e-mail adds that pages dedicated to a prescription drug may, at Facebook's discretion, still be whitelisted.

BNET's Jim Edwards notes that there is another way to be on Facebook without a comment function: as an advertisement. "Few drug companies advertise on Facebook, a fact that Facebook seems to have noticed — the first line of its email to drug companies about the new commenting policy stated, 'As you know, Facebook Pages are a free product for organizations, public figures, businesses,'" he says. "So, yes, it is all about money."

HT: The Scientist's Naturally Selected blog

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