Social network terms and conditions

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A template for website terms and conditions that has been especially adapted for social networks.

Author: Alasdair Taylor
Updated: 5 April 2021
Length: 11 pages (min.)
Notes: 15 pages (min.)
Format: MS Word (.DOCX)

This is a T&Cs template for social networking websites. It has been designed to help protect the website operator from the many potential liabilities that can arise out of the operation of a social network. In addition, the template will help operators to comply with disclosure laws and to manage the licensing of copyright-protected content in an appropriate manner.

The T&Cs are based upon the premium version of our generic website T&Cs.

The general version of the template assumes that use of the website and the social networking features on the website is completely free-of-charge.

In addition to the general version of these T&Cs, we offer a range of modified versions.

  • Social directory - For directory websites with social features.
  • Social recruitment - For recruitment websites with social features.
  • Social and affiliate - With added provisions for social websites earning money through affiliate marketing.
  • Social network and subscription - For social networks with paid subscription options.
  • Social reviews and questions - Combining the provisions of our social network , our reviews website and our Q&A website terms and conditions.
This document may be used in conjunction with our social networking privacy and cookies policy, and it is included in our social networking pack.

The contents of the base social network terms and conditions template are listed below. Additional provisions are included in the variants.

  1. Introduction
  2. Copyright notice
  3. Licence to use website
  4. RSS feed
  5. Acceptable use
  6. Registration and accounts
  7. User IDs and passwords
  8. Cancellation and suspension of account
  9. Social networking
  10. Personal profiles
  11. Your content: licence
  12. Your content: rules
  13. Report abuse
  14. Limited warranties
  15. Limitations and exclusions of liability
  16. Indemnity
  17. Breaches of these terms and conditions
  18. Third party websites
  19. Trade marks
  20. Competitions
  21. Variation
  22. Assignment
  23. Severability
  24. Third party rights
  25. Entire agreement
  26. Law and jurisdiction
  27. Statutory and regulatory disclosures
  28. Our details

How does these social networking terms and conditions template deal with the legal issues relating to the use of a website by children?

Children using social networking websites present a number of distinct legal problems. To give three examples:

  • Great care needs to be taken to ensure that the processing of personal data about a child or supplied by a child is lawful. One issue here is that children may be unable to give consent to the use of their personal data, because they do not understand the meaning or implications of giving consent.

  • Explicit materials that may be lawful for adults to view may be unlawful for children to view under the indecency laws.

  • In English law, contracts are not enforceable against children, except in certain limited circumstances that are unlikely to apply in relation to website use.

Unfortunately, these are not the sort of problems that can be "dealt with" by including a particular form of words in your T&Cs. They need careful consideration in relation to each website. Very often, the best that can be done is to ameliorate the problems, rather than solve them.

This template terms of use for social networking websites does include a clause about age: "You must be at least X years of age to use our website. By using our website and by agreeing to these terms of use, you warrant and represent that you are at least X years of age". However, it should be clear from this brief account of the legal problems associated with children using social networking sites that, whatever the value of X, this does not solve very much.

If you are planning to launch a social networking website targeted at children or liable to be used by children, we strongly recommend that you take specialist legal advice.

Note: social networking sites often attempt to exclude users under the age of 13. This particular age limit features is in US legislation. For more information, see the Children Online Privacy Protection Act .

What rights do visitors have to use the website under these T&Cs?

This document is based on our premium website T&Cs. It includes a limited licence to users, who are permitted only to view, download to a web browser cache and print pages from the social network site. Streaming and access to other website services may also be included in the permitted uses. Uses that may be expressly banned include republishing or selling website information and commercial uses.

What restrictions do the T&Cs place upon users in relation to website usage?

The T&Cs contain a set of specific restrictions on use of the social network, including prohibitions on uses that:

  • harm the website or harm people;
  • constitute fraud or are otherwise against the law;
  • spread malware; or
  • involve systematic data gathering.

Other potential prohibitions include using robots and using information from the site for direct marketing.

Does this document cover passwords in any way?

The T&Cs require users wishing to access social networking functionality to register an account, and to keep their passwords secure.

Can we prohibit particular types of user from registering with the website?

Optional provisions requiring users to be above a minimum age and fulfil a residency requirement are be included.

Does this T&Cs document regulate user generated content, particularly defamatory content?

Legal hazards are inherent in running a social networking service. For instance, defamatory messages may be posted by users.

On the one hand, the T&Cs prohibit the posting of defamatory material (and other unlawful or actionable content). On the other hand, the T&Cs contain an explicit agreement from the user that the user will not take action against the social network in respect of such defamatory material.

The social network obviously retains the right to edit or remove user content and to block a user's access to the site.

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A copy of these social network terms and conditions is included in the following pack:


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