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March 27, 2012

Pinterest Listens to Users and Revises Terms and Conditions

Pinterest can be a great way to increase the visibility of your brand or connect with other like-minded individuals in your industry (although it doesn’t help eliminate distractions for writers because it is so incredibly addicting, but I digress). For this reason, the social network has over 10.4 million registered uses, 9 million monthly Facebook connected users, and 2 million daily Facebook users according to Inside Network’s AppData tracking service. However, even with all of these users, the site was in serious jeopardy just a few short days ago.

Users were starting to realize that the Pinterest terms and conditions simply were not safe. Since most people do not read the terms and conditions, this problem went unnoticed by many for quite some time. Nevertheless, the truth came out quick to a large number of people; forcing Pinterest to make a change. Below are some of the terms and conditions that caused the uproar:

  • When you pin something, you agree that you own whatever it is you pin or have permission from the original owner.
  • Pinterest is allowed to sell anything you pin.
  • If any legal fees need to be paid or dealt with, you must pay the legal fees for Pinterest.
  • Any risk you may be taking by using the site (copyright issues, ownership disagreements, etc.) is entirely your responsibility.

The word was spread quickly by this graphic written by Jon Contino. This caused many to remove photographs or stop using the site out of fear that something would go wrong and they would be entirely responsible for all fees and blame. Fortunately, Pinterest listened.

The Latest Pinterest Terms and Conditions Changes

This past weekend the Pinterest team sent an email message out to all users to help solve the situation. Pinterest decided that they would be changing their terms and conditions and apologized for any inconvenience the terms may have caused. The terms will not be split into three sections: Terms of Service, Acceptable Use Policy, and Privacy Policy

Splitting the terms up into three sections should help make the terms easier to understand for all users. However most importantly, the site is going to change some of the “rules” that had so many users up in arms. Below are some of the changes discussed in the email:

  • Pinterest will not be selling any content published on the site.
  • Pins that explicitly encourage self-harm or self-abuse will not be tolerated (such as unhealthy diets or bullying).
  • There will not be simpler tools for anyone to report any copyright or trademark issues. Every pin will also have the option of a “Report Pin” button to help make this easier.
  • New features such as a Pinterest API will be added. This will allow developers and third party services top get involved in the site.

All of these changes will be set into motion on April 6, 2012. Although we still haven’t seen any changes about legal fees or responsibility of the images on the site, this is certainly a set in the right direction.

Will this change the way you use Pinterest?

Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer on topics ranging from social media to payroll processing. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including merchant services to small businesses and entrepreneurs for Resource Nation.

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October 7, 2011

5 Ways Your Site is Probably Breaking the Law Right Now

Handcuffs ImageMost sites don’t try to break the law. Only a few actively make an effort to violate any kind of law and most of those are generally shut down fairly quickly, either by aggressive hosts or, in worst-case scenarios, law enforcement.

But this doesn’t mean everyone is perfect either. Most sites, at the very least, bend the law and sometimes outright break it.

This isn’t because they are run by bad people but because of the nature of the law itself. Sometimes it’s poorly-written law that is almost impossible to not break (at least technically) and sometimes it’s lack of knowledge about the law itself.

So what are some of the ways you’re probably breaking the law online? There are too many to choose from but here are five you should definitely take a look at. read more

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May 13, 2011

5 Things to Check When Reading a Terms of Service

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With TwitPic recently finding itself in hot water over a terms of service change that prevented its users from reselling photographs they had uploaded using the service (their TOS has since been changed to slightly less controversial terms), there’s been a great deal of interest lately the terms we agree to when registering new accounts at various site and the time bombs that could be buried in there.

The truth is that very few people take the time to as much as skim the TOS before clicking “accept” and are completely unaware of what is in the legally binding contract they just “signed”. This has the potential to create major headaches down the road when and if these services decide to exploit their rights to their fullest.

So, if you’re motivated to be a little more careful with the terms you agree to, here is a quick primer on five critical things you want to check when accepting a new TOS. While, obviously, this isn’t a complete list, these are probably the things you probably want to look for first in order to best understand what it is you’re signing and what it might mean moving forward. read more

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April 24, 2009

The Facebook TOS Vote Is Over: You Didn’t Vote, Did You?

I’m not the least surprised to see Facebook coming short of the 60 million votes needed in the Terms of Service pseudo-democracy stunt. Because they did, and both AllFacebook and Inside Facebook confirms it. So how many people did in fact vote?

650,000 according to said two sites. They needed 60 million.

I would’ve expected a bigger turnout, but obviously the average Facebook users isn’t too inclined to read the proposed Terms of Service. Which I can sympathize with, those are dull documents and most users just accepts and moves on. But seriously, 650,000 and you needed 60 million? That’s almost embarrassing.

I think Facebook thinks so too, but on the flipside, they did the open thing here, and no more whining when they change the TOS to earn your soul again. Because you obviously didn’t vote.

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April 17, 2009

Cast Your Vote On The New Facebook Terms Of Service

FacebookFacebook plays democracy and lets you vote on the new terms of service, after the debacle some time ago. A good move, but do you really have that much of a choice?

You will have two options on the ballot, as shown below: 1) the new Facebook Principles and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (SRR), which incorporate feedback from users and experts received during the 30-day comment period, or 2) the current Terms of Use, which were developed by Facebook and did not go through an outside comment period.

The vote is open until April 23, 11:59 am PDT. Read more in Mark Zuckerberg’s blog post and on Techmeme of course. read more

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February 23, 2009

A Million Terms, A Million Contracts

The Facebook TOS debacle last week shined a rare light on the subject of rights we give away when we sign up to use site or service.

Though Facebook’s new TOS, which removed the clause that lets users end their license granted to Facebook by deleting their work, was both of poor judgment and very worrisome, it was likely much ado about. Not only was the TOS rescinded shortly after the controversy began, but even with the new TOS, Facebook’s rights were still limited by the user’s privacy settings.

What has gotten significantly less attention is the sheer number of TOS’ that most Web users sign just as part of being on the Web. In an age where almost every site is also a “service”, it seems we’re creating more accounts than ever and, with every sign up, signing away more and more of our rights.

Most of us have lost track of all the sites we have registered for, the agreements we have signed and few of us actually take the time to even skim the terms that we do accept. Our rights to our online lives are in millions of pieces, scattered across countless companies and sites.

Piecing them back together, if it became necessary, could be nearly impossible. Worse still, as many of these companies continue to expand and grow the rights they give themselves via their TOS,

It has come time to question our love affair for new services and the terms they force us to agree to and seek ways to streamline and simplify this very messy process. read more

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February 18, 2009

Facebook Backtracks After TOS Outrage

The criticism struck home, and now Facebook have backtracked its Terms of Service to the previous version, despite Mark Zuckerberg’s blog post about why they changed it in the first place. Now they’re taking their time to get the terms to where they want them, and invites users to participate in discussions in a Facebook group dedicated to these things. We’ll see where this ends, my guess is that a less aggressive TOS is in store.

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February 16, 2009

Facebook’s New TOS Owns Your Stuff

The Consumerist has been reading the new Facebook Terms of of Service and if you’re protective of your stuff, you might want to read up on it. Basically, the deal is that if you upload anything to the social network, they can do whatever they want with it, even if you cancel your account. Head over to The Consumerist for a discussion (also: Techmeme) and some quotes from the various TOS. Worth to keep in mind if you’re a dedicated Facebook user for sure.

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