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3 Instant Lessons From the Instagram Uproar

By Deanne Katz, Esq. | Last updated on

Your company might not be acquired by Facebook anytime soon, but that doesn't mean you can't learn some lessons from Instagram and their terms of service nightmare.

If your company has an online presence, then you have (or certainly should have) a privacy policy. If you also do business on your website, you should have terms of service as well. Those are legal documents and need attention regardless of your business' size.

A lawyer can help you figure out the legal language that you need for your TOS and privacy policy, but to avoid customer panic there are other things to consider as well. Here are the Top 3 lessons to learn from the uproar over Instagram:

  1. Post your policies in plain English. The "legalese" required to make your terms of service or privacy policy stand up in court can be confusing for anyone without a law degree. Underneath the necessary language, let people know the "plain English" of what you mean. People fear what they don't know, as TechCrunch wisely pointed out, so make it less scary by helping them understand.

  2. Let people know what's changed. Often these kinds of online documents contain a lot of information and can go on for a while. When you make an update, it's likely that little has changed, so direct customers to just those areas, or highlight those changes. That way people know what to focus on and don't have to worry about the rest. If you don't direct them to the relevant changes, then they may read the whole document and get upset thinking there are more changes than you actually made.

  3. Respond to customer concerns. Once you and your attorney have decided how you want to update your terms, the process isn't over. There's a good chance your customers will have questions about the practical applications of the new policy. Be prepared to address those issues, either in person or on a company blog, so that your customers know you care about their concerns. This also gives you an opportunity to try minimize any panic over changes to your terms of service.

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