Why Does Wal-Mart Need A 3,379-Word Terms Of Use For Its Twitter Account?

from the someone-please-explain dept

Twitter only gives you 140-characters, of course, but what do you do if you're an old-school company that's been around for ages and is used to legalizing everything? Apparently, you create a 3,379-word terms of use for your Twitter account. Boing Boing points us to Wal-Mart's Twitter Terms of Use, which is really impressive if only in that if it were Twittered in 140-character increments it would take about 165 separate tweets. But, honestly, I can't figure out who this Terms of Use is directed at. It can't be those who read the various Twitter feeds from Wal-Mart employees, since most of them will never even come to this page at all (they're just following on Twitter, not on Wal-Mart's site). It's unlikely that it's for the Wal-Mart employees directly, as one assumes they don't need a public Terms of Use. So what's its purpose?


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Matt, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 10:05am

    I blame the Economy

    They probably ran out of things for the their shelf stockers to do since no one is buying stuff anymore so they told them to write a twitter Terms of Use so they weren't sitting around

     

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      Ima Fish (profile), Jul 9th, 2009 @ 10:21am

      Re: I blame the Economy

      "they told shelf stockers to write a twitter Terms of Use so they weren't sitting around"

      I'd guess that the average shelf stockers would and could compose a Terms of Use with fewer words than the average attorneys could.

       

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    Rob R. (profile), Jul 9th, 2009 @ 10:08am

    To satisfy the blood-sucking lawyers.

     

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    Joseph Durnal, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 10:10am

    By the word

    Maybe they pay their attorneys by the word.

     

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    pixelpusher220 (profile), Jul 9th, 2009 @ 10:16am

    Um, maybe because it's just a boilerplate legal document? It wasn't as if they wrote 3k words just for the twitter site. The word 'Twitter' exists in the entire document only once in the very first sentence defining "the site".

    Is it necessary? probably not, but lets not proclaim them writing vast amounts of legalese for no purpose. They simply re-used a standard piece of boilerplate.

     

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    Ima Fish (profile), Jul 9th, 2009 @ 10:19am

    "Why Does Wal-Mart Need A 3,379-Word Terms Of Use For Its Twitter Account?"

    Some lawyers charge by the hour. Apparently, some others charge by the word.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 10:24am

    From their "twitter discussion policy"

    "We won’t reply to off topic @replies. Personal attacks and foul language = FAIL. Adding to the discussion = WIN."

    http://walmartstores.com/9179.aspx

     

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    interval, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 10:50am

    EULAs are simply attempts by corporations to get out of responsibility for anything that can happen as a result the use of any products or services the corporation offers. Which makes complete sense if the product were say, a car. It also doesn't make a bit of difference as car companies are sued all the time for problems with their products regardless of any EULAs they distribute with the car.

    With a twitter feed, however, I'm at a loss to completely understand how Walmart could be held liable for anything that can happens a result of some one reading their tweets, or what they could possibly tweet in 140 characters that they would need to cover with a copyright. It seems to me to be more of lawyers justifying their existence by writing more EULA language. I wonder what Walmart corp got charged in exchange for that EULA?

     

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      Yakko Warner, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 11:39am

      Re:

      Maybe it's to try to CYA from the inevitable lawsuit the first time someone mis-types something in the Twitter feed, like:

      @WalMart: Sale on toilet paper, now 0.49 cents!

      Or maybe it's in case something they say that they want to "control" ends up getting re-tweeted in a way they don't approve of (with these "somethings" and "ways" to be determined later).

       

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    Alex Michel, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 11:11am

    Attention as a Scarce Resource

    Mike, I love your model of infinite and scarce goods. Genius. Well explained.

    I have a question about it and I don't know where to post it such that you'll see it and hopefully respond. So I'm trying to get your attention here. Could you please direct me to where I can post my question and hopefully have you deem it worthy of an answer?

    Here is the key question that is haunting me:

    Your model suggests that making the content free will expand the size of the market. But it seems to me that the market for content consumption (music, books, whatever) is limited more by human attention (on the part of the content consumers) than by the amount of money the buyers have to spend. So while I agree that in a world of free music, it would be easier for more people to have more songs on their ipods than in a world of paid music, it seems that the total number of songs people can listen to per day is more limited by time than by money. And the amount of attention people can direct toward the consumption of the scarce goods associated with the music is also scarce and not subject to significant expansion. I might be more likely to discover (for free) a new band I love and then pay for their concert or fansite as opposed to U2's. But that would be a shift in the market rather than an expansion of it. The market will change--money will flow toward the scarce goods rather than the infinite goods, and there will be different winners and losers, but I'm not clear on how the market expands. Won't the total amount of content consumption attention remain largely the same, and won't the total amount of content consumption dollars stay roughly similar?

    Please let me know what you think about this. This is the only thing I'm confused about in your elegant well-explained model.

    Thank you!

    Alex

     

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      SomeGuy (profile), Jul 9th, 2009 @ 11:43am

      Re: Attention as a Scarce Resource

      Not Mike, but... One thing that comes to mind is that if i'm not spending money on buying music, I DO have more money to spend on other things, like concerts and the like. So the market kind of expands in that way. Also, the efficiencies that allow for free music also lower the financial threshold for "breaking in" to music, so more artists can afford to join the market now than before. That kind of expands the market, too. Plus, people are able to get more exposure to more music, so instead of having a few superstars like U2 and the Beatles you have a lot more musicians of a lot more diversity able to make a living being musicians than before. So that kind of expands the market, too.

      I think you're right, there's not more time or money, necessarily, being put into the system, but that's not really the only way to "expand" the market.

      Should've asked on a post discussing music or the economics of free, though, rather than one focused onstrange EULAs.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 12:04pm

      Re: Attention as a Scarce Resource

      Seriously, email him. He's a really nice guy and will email you back.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 12:18pm

      Re: Attention as a Scarce Resource

      email him directly and stop posting so completely off topic I feel like I'm swimming in Bermuda.

       

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    Beefcake, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 11:13am

    Answer to Question Posed in Post's Title

    They probably obtain their legal-ese in bulk too, so might as well use it.

     

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    Osno (profile), Jul 9th, 2009 @ 11:14am

    They have the infamous line:

    "Wal-Mart reserves the right, at its sole discretion, without advance notice, to change, modify, add or remove all or any portion of the Site or the Terms."

    So it's double useless: unenforceable because it server no purpose and because the courts already have decided that you can't be bound to something that changes with no notification.

    I wonder if the EFF will include it in the TOS watchlist...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 11:19am

    Because we can't *legally* kill lawyers on sight.

     

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    Robert Nelson (profile), Jul 9th, 2009 @ 11:53am

    Typical Walmart, thinks a EULA solves any possible legal problem. If it did why are there so many lawyers ? most of whom don't work for free.

     

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    RobShaver (profile), Jul 9th, 2009 @ 12:06pm

    This is who it's for ...

    Who's it for. Well it clearly says, "BY CHOOSING TO ACCESS AND USE THIS SITE, YOU ARE EXPRESSLY AGREEING TO BE BOUND BY THESE TERMS." So it's for anyone who visits their web site
    "http://walmartstores.com/twitter/".

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 12:09pm

    Do people really expect any different from a horrendous organization like Wally world?

    It has been 10+ years since I have been in one of their crap filled boxes and I don't plan to start up again anytime soon. Crap filled also applies to their online efforts.

     

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    RobShaver (profile), Jul 9th, 2009 @ 12:13pm

    model of infinite and scarce goods

    @Alex Michel

    You talk about the "model of infinite and scarce goods" as if Mike is recommending that this is how the "world" SHOULD be. I think he's telling us that this is how the "world" IS or is becoming. His recommendations and reporting are more about how to cope with this new reality.

     

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      another mike (profile), Jul 9th, 2009 @ 4:38pm

      Re: model of infinite and scarce goods

      Been seeing this view a lot too. People think of the "laws of economics" like legislation where someone wrote down 'this is how it shall be'. And that's completely wrong.

      Economics is like meteorology. It's the study of an incredibly complex system, we only understand a tiny fraction of it, and the more we futz with it the worse things get. We don't make the rules, we're still trying to figure out what they are.

      But with the economy, it's worse than that. Someone is trying to make the rules too. But that's like writing an almanac and expecting the weather to follow that plan.

       

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    ChronoFish (profile), Jul 9th, 2009 @ 12:42pm

    Even more....

    Because the "Term of Use" was not enough, they also have a separate "Twitter External Discussion Policy"

    http://walmartstores.com/9179.aspx

    I love that "by using the service" you agree to the terms of use. I'm a bit confused though - I didn't realize that Walmart ran Twitter!

    -CF

     

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    Doyle Albee, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 5:16pm

    Fail...

    Sorry, but this is just a fail. Social media is just that: social. Can you imagine walking in to a party and, before you engage, give your "rules" for conversation? "I'm sorry, but I don't respond to things you might say that I don't like." What a load. If there's a ridiculous, off-topic and profane comment, IGNORE IT. Whether this is boilerplate legalese or a corporate legal staff run amok, it undoes the good Walmart has done in social media and makes them look foolish.

     

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    dawat23, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 11:42pm

    I totally agree with Matt's word.Really this one is a very interesting post.Very informative.I found lots of good and useful things from it.Thanks for sharing.

     

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    mmarrion23, Jul 11th, 2009 @ 2:02am

    WOW… What a post. I never come across such a lovely post which is very well written, to the point and have every thing which a target customer is looking for. Thanks for sharing a wonderful post. :)

     

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    ecomsolution, Jul 11th, 2009 @ 11:25pm

    Dedicated Hosting

    Having written articles that require this much work, I commend you for your service to the future bloggers. I’m sure they will appreciate it! Great job.I keep seeing like these articles.

     

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