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Fine Print

March 15, 2014


Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Wordpress, Yelp, YouTube, and Google have become essential tools for communicating with larger audiences. If you're like many people you've accepted terms of use for dozens of such online services--some of which may cause you problems down the line, especially if you've created an account on behalf of your organization.

Social media platforms are notorious for lengthy terms of service (ToS); besides Tumblr's latest revision, I've yet to find a ToS that is inviting or exciting to read. Still, when pushing your organization's content onto the internet, it's important to get a handle on what rights you have or don't when using certain platforms. The terms of use for each of the major social media platforms--including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr--include a license provision stating that, as a condition of using the site, the user agrees to give a no-cost license to the site's proprietors regarding any uploaded content, even if the content is later removed by the user. One should be particularly cautious when using one of these platforms, as there is a potential for loss of control over uploaded content.

One thing you should consider before posting: When you make something publicly available on the Internet, it becomes practically impossible to take down all copies of it. --Tumblr Terms of Service

Instagram, Facebook, and Google have all recently been involved in lawsuits relating to privacy. If you manage the social media for your organization or have a general interest in your rights as a user, it is recommended that your familiarize yourself with the various ToS documents. You should also do at least one Google search for each network and see what people are saying about changes within the past 6 months; there are usually tips and tactics in online forums that can assist your social media marketing. Terms of Service are fluid documents that change regularly, so be on the look-out for alterations that affect you and your organization.

Some social media website terms of service:

Facebook Terms of Service (Here’s an extra treat for learning how to use Facebook’s Brand Assets)

Twitter Terms of Service

Youtube Terms of Service

Pinterest Terms of Service

Linkedin Terms of Service

Instagram Terms of Service

Flickr/Yahoo Terms of Service

Foursquare Terms of Service

Google+ Terms of Service