LinkedIn Looks to Retain User Trust With Simpler Terms of Service

LinkedIn could lead the industry in presenting users with terms of service agreements that are useful and easy to understand.

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The terms of service provided by social networks and online businesses are probably the least-read, most-agreed-to legal document in history. By not reading these documents, users put a lot of their content up for monetization without even realizing. LinkedIn has attempted to tackle both problems by streamlining its terms of service, and telling users how their content will be used.

LinkedIn states in a press release: “You own your content that you post on our services. You always have, and that hasn’t changed.” It doesn’t get much simpler than that. The updated user agreement reads very clearly, with a left column for useful reference for users, and the legalese in a column to the right to keep the lawyers happy. The privacy policy is very similar.

LinkedIn even provides videos that lets users know, very plainly, how their content will be used, and that users always have ultimate control. This is a great move, and hopefully it will compel other services to streamline their legal documents, which could increase the number of users that actually read them.

Overly complicated ToS could actually land a company in legal trouble. And that’s not the least of it: Lawmakers are starting to propose legislation that neutralizes suspect language in ToS agreements.

Even though most users seem to skip over the terms of service, these documents are the key instrument in defining the relationship between network and consumer. If these documents stay complicated, there can be the scent of impropriety, which can cause users to lose trust in services. LinkedIn seems to understand this, and the word “trust” is used throughout their new videos.

Users and lawmakers are becoming more aware of the importance of terms of service. Companies need to keep pace with consumers, or else users could start taking the control of their data away from the networks. LinkedIn presenting its legal documents in a useful way is a fantastic first step.