Should You Update Your Website Terms Of Use To Cover Terrorism?

Update Website Terms Of Use To Cover TerrorismMajor tech companies have agreed to comply with the Christchurch Call to Action To Eliminate Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content Online (the “Christchurch Call”). This includes modifying their website Terms of Use:

“We commit to updating our terms of use, community standards, codes of conduct, and acceptable use policies to expressly prohibit the distribution of terrorist and violent extremist content. We believe this is important to establish baseline expectations for users and to articulate a clear basis for removal of this content from our platforms and services and suspension or closure of accounts distributing such content.” (PDF link).

Should You Following Their Lead And Change Your Website Terms Of Use?

Probably not. Here’s why…

As a practical matter, there’s no U.S. federal legal requirement to address terrorism as a specific issue in your website legal protection. In fact, the federal government rejects the Christchurch Call on the grounds that online free speech protection is more important.

Now most website Terms of Use already require visitors to obey applicable law. That’s true whether it’s bespoke website legal documents prepared by a Website Lawyer for an online business. Or website legal forms (e.g. Website Legal Forms Generator software).

And terrorism itself is already outlawed. So, to address terrorism as a legal issue is redundant. Or it’s a way to curb speech online a website owner dislikes that otherwise would be legal.

Three Situations Where You Might Adopt The Christchurch Call

Here are three scenarios where you may want to change your site’s Terms of Use because of this issue…

1. Your Website Terms Of Use doesn’t require compliance with applicable law – so you want to address legal compliance in general, not just terrorism.

2. You want to virtue signal on the issue even though there’s no legal requirement to do so.

3. There’s a legitimate business reason for making such a change.

Under the third scenario, it’s possible at some point the tech giants who have signed onto the Christchurch Call will require you to do so as well if you want to enter into or continue a business relationship with them. For example, in order to be an Amazon affiliate or participate in Google advertising, your site’s terms might someday have to address terrorism for economic reasons.

Author Mike Young, Esq.

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