Have you read the writing on the wall? How about the Terms and Conditions for your favorite social media sites? Well, whether you’ve read them or not, if you’ve checked that “accept” button and are using the site, they apply to you.
I think most of us feel about website Terms and Conditions the way that comic, Eddie Izzard, describes in this video.
For the purpose of learning more about social media sites’ Ts & Cs, I read through Facebook’s and Twitter’s and some others, as well. I’ll be taking a closer look at the User Agreement for LinkedIn. I chose this document out of all of the ones I read through, because I felt it took the most balanced approach.
First of all, I really like the format. LinkedIn tries to communicate to the user in easy-to-digest bites of information and organizes it with a sidebar, whose only purpose is to help explain what they’ll be covering in each section. If you took a look at Facebook’s or Twitter’s Ts & Cs, you know that that is not always the case.
I also like how LinkedIn seems to be trying to use real conversational language in their Ts & Cs whenever possible. From an ethical perspective, this is important because I think it shows that the company is making its best effort to make sure their Ts & Cs are not just binding, but understood. The inclusion of this video at the top of the page also helps communicate that to their users.
In terms of safeguards, LinkedIn is very clear that, “When you share information, others can see, copy and use that information.” They also make it very clear in their Disclaimer and Limit of Liability that they are not liable for any damages, loss of services, opportunities, reputation, data, profits or revenues related to their services. Here’s where is gets tricky. After having read through so many of these Ts & Cs, I now look at them as the contracts that they are. Companies, like LinkedIn, should be allowed to protect themselves by making statements like these in their Ts & Cs. Otherwise, they’d never be able to operate.
It’s certainly a balancing act that sites like LinkedIn are doing in their Ts & Cs. For the most part, I think LinkedIn is doing a great job of both protecting themselves while explaining to their users the best way to conduct their business on their site.
It’s true. Their List of user “Do’s” is much shorter than the “Don’t,” but as I read through them, I felt that they are reasonable, which is more than I can say for many others!
So, read the Ts & Cs of the sites you are a part of. Are there any that stick out to you as being outrageous? Which social site do you think has the best Ts & Cs?