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Tumblr wins kudos for humorous, comprehensible terms of service

3/28/2012

Major websites like Google and Pinterest recently changed their privacy policy and terms of use agreements, generating controversy and - in Google's case - a class-action lawsuit. As the media and users have begun to pay more attention to the often arcane ins-and-outs of these policies, another big site, photo blog Tumblr, has received praise for its straightforward and (believe it or not) funny TOS.

Like other terms of service, Tumblr's is lengthy and includes paragraphs of dense legalese. However, unlike other sites' TOS, Tumblr follows up these thorny passages with easy to understand summaries.

For example, with regard to its eligibility guidelines, Tumblr's TOS states: "You have to be at least 13 years old to use Tumblr. We're serious: it's a hard rule, based on U.S. federal and state legislation, even if you're 12.9 years old. If you're younger than 13, don't use Tumblr. Ask your parents for an Xbox or try books."

Citing research from Which?, Keith Wagstaff of Time magazine pointed out that PayPal's TOS is longer than "Hamlet" and iTunes' is longer than "Macbeth." He asserted more sites should take their cue from Tumblr.

"If Hamlet can have Cliff Notes," Wagstaff wrote, "surely someone can write a summary of what I'm getting myself into when downloading the new version of iTunes."