Medium is home to creative writers across the globe. The platform’s focus is on sharing and highlighting original content from inspired storytellers.
Medium’s Terms of Service may not be the most engaging selection of content on the site, but it certainly reads like a well-crafted piece of prose. This is one of the elements that makes the brand’s policy more effective than those of some other social media platforms. The agreement opens with, “We’ll try to make this as painless and straightforward as possible.” Recognizing and respecting users’ time as well as expressing a genuine desire for comprehension on the part of the reader is both an ethical and a courteous practice.
On two different occasions, the writers urge readers to consume the document in its entirety by first stating, “Even if your eyes normally glaze over the word ‘Terms,’ it’s a good idea to read this agreement carefully before you use Medium,” and then again before launching into the dreaded legal jargon: “These following provisions are important, you should read them carefully, and we apologize for the excruciating lawyerly patois.”
The document is in an easy-to-read format that does not consist of a concise list of bullet points, but is at least arranged in short paragraphs with clear headings. Additionally, the company solicits its users’ suggestions and opinions with regards to the terms.
All of these are good practices to ensure the brand has done everything in its power to encourage users to actually read, comprehend, and agree to the terms and conditions should an accusation of anything contrary to this surface during a legal situation.
Another potential area of legal scrutiny, and one which has gained a lot of attention over recent years, is that of content ownership. Medium addresses this topic right away by defining “Your Content” and “Our Content” and emboldening the sentence: “You own the rights to the content you post on Medium.” It then goes on to explain, “We don’t claim ownership over any of it. However, by posting or transferring content to Medium, you give us permission to use your content solely to do the things we need to do to provide Medium Services…,” and “We will never sell your content to third parties without your explicit permission.”
It is wise of Medium to include a Rules section to outline behavioral expectations for the safety and positive experience of others. They are also pretty standard, and in their regard the writers simply state, “There aren’t many. In fact, they can pretty much all be summed up thusly: Don’t pee in the pool (metaphorically speaking).” Users follow a link to view a short list of rules each with its own subheading and brief explanation. Finally, Medium maintains that it reserves the right to suspend and delete accounts and/or content for violation of these rules.
Overall, Medium covers the critical areas of content ownership, appropriate content free of copyright infringement, privacy, updates and agreement, monitoring procedures, the company’s rights to manage and host content at its discretion, and simple rules for social behavior on the platform. The information is presented in an easy-to-digest manner that indicates Medium wants its users to actually read for understanding rather than blindly agree and claim ignorance later. By creating a guideline, but also including the legal lingo, Medium appeases both the human and legal aspects of a contractual agreement.
Personally, I was relieved to find Medium’s terms and conditions to be so friendly and engaging. If more platforms presented this typically-drab information in both an enlightening and an entertaining manner, then more people would interact with the content. If I am ever part of a collaborative effort to create such policy for a brand, I will be sure to revisit this site and seek out others like it for reference during the drafting process!