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Towards a better protection of social media users : a legal perspective on the terms of use of social networking sites
09 March 2016
AUTHOR: WAUTERS Ellen, LIEVENS Eva, Peggy Valcke
The ‘Terms of Use’ of Social Networking Sites (SNS) increasingly attract attention from policymakers and civil society. It is argued that these terms are rarely read by users and that, consequently, users cannot correctly assess their implications. This article attempts to evaluate the validity of SNS Terms of Use based on the requirements that are imposed in existing legal instruments. Firstly, we look at the phenomenon of standard contracts in the offline world. Secondly, we try to identify whether the SNS environment adds additional elements to the manner in which consumers approach standard Terms of Use. Thirdly, as a case study, we examine the Terms of Use of Facebook and assess whether the clauses could be found invalid on the basis of several law requirements. Finally, we try to put forward a number of remedies for the imbalance of the rights and responsibilities that can currently be found in SNS Terms of Use.

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