Kevin Bae

Non-Social in a Socially Networked World

Every business should have its own “terms of service”

Why is it legal to discriminate according to political ideology? Does this mean that any private business can now refuse service to anyone because of their political beliefs? 

Every business should post a “terms of service” that says you automatically agree once you step beyond a certain point. Then if a user of your service does anything, says anything, or even has a history of doing or saying anything that violates the TOS you can refuse service. Under current popular opinion that should be legal.

I bring this up obviously because of the blackballing of the social media app Parler. I’d provide a link but as of this writing they are still down. There crime is that they would not “properly” police their site for content that is supposedly in violation of Amazon’s terms of service.

Take a good look at Amazon’s AWS terms of service. It’s gigantic! The section regarding content and “prohibited content” is thankfully up at the top in section 1.4. But prohibited content is not defined here. Instead you have to look up Amazon’s acceptable use policy. Their acceptable use policy is so vague that I can easily prove that Amazon is violating it’s own policy. Here is the content policy they are violating.

Offensive Content. Content that is defamatory, obscene, abusive, invasive of privacy, or otherwise objectionable, including content that constitutes child pornography, relates to bestiality, or depicts non-consensual sex acts.

I’m pretty sure almost any book covering the subject of rape has to depict “non-consensual sex acts.” Does it make common sense that these books should be banned from or that Amazon should take down their site? No. But you can see how easy it is to make a terms of service violation claim.

Parler was attempting to act as a platform. Just like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and the like. They chose to not editorialize by taking down or banning some controversial speech. If anyone on their site participated in illegal speech then they should have been taken down and prosecuted.

I dare to say that most people who post controversial opinions on social media apps are not the people you need to worry about. The true terrorists are using more private means of communication. Sure, you may get the one off out in public but by and large I believe the real terroristic threats occur on more obscure sites, through private e-mail, or encrypted chat.

Software terms of service have been around forever. When we used to buy software the terms of service were almost ignored. I don’t think they held much weight even in court. But, with the rise of the Internet and software as a service suddenly we don’t own anything and are subject to the whims of service agreement legalese. This is why every business should adopt the service business model. It makes it extremely easy then to oust people with which you disagree.

Don’t sell donuts. Sell donuts as a service. People can purchase a sample or subscribe to your donut of the day or donut of the month. When they walk through that door have your terms of service posted in front or right there on the floor. Once there in you now have total control over what they can and cannot say in your establishment. A violation gets them removed.

Image by Markus Winkler from Pixabay