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?

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Companies: twitter, wal-mart

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

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pixelpusher220 (profile) says:

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.

interval says:

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?

Yakko Warner says:

Re: 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).

Alex Michel says:

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!


SomeGuy (profile) says:

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.

Osno (profile) says:

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…

RobShaver (profile) says:

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.

another mike (profile) says:

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.

Doyle Albee (profile) says:


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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