Why Use Website Terms of Service Agreements?

Why put a Terms of Service agreement on your website?

Look, everything’s got a little legal legend to it, ok? You see them everywhere. The masthead of a magazine, the fine print on an advertisement, even the coffee cups at McDonald’s. Everything just seems to go better when emblazoned with a bunch of juicy legal notices. Right?

Must be over 18. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.

Maybe it’s just me.

Admittedly, very few people ever read the Terms of Service on websites — it took over a month or so after Facebook changed its TOS earlier this year for anyone to notice. But that’s because they’re needlessly buried; they are truly the “fine print” of the web experience. This is a shame. Experiencing a website should be transparent and obvious, not fraught with surprises hidden in legal minutiae.

The reason you see TOS agreements on every website is because they really can reduce legal risks. They are the cloves of garlic that can ward off the vampires of frivolous lawsuits that could otherwise suck the life out of innocent, well-meaning, web-based companies.

Your website TOS agreement notifies your users of what they can expect when using your site. Including a TOS agreement on your site is an opportunity to get a few things out in the open so you can’t be accused later of hiding the ball.

In any case, whether or not your users actually read your TOS agreement, it’s probably still enforceable as a legal contract.

Make it a good one.

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