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I run a small social networking site that provides twitter-like capabilities (It's a gnu-social based service). I am concerned that many of my (legally adult) users have used the site to arrange real world meetings with one another. By tacitly allowing users to do this on site, am I exposing myself to liability should one of these meetings go sour?

Case in point: I have received some very tenuous evidence suggesting that in the past, one of my users has been involved in criminal behaviour. (A copied and pasted IM log). Am I obligated to kick this person from my community because they might hunt down one of my users and eat their face? They seem well adjusted and friendly enough now, but that could be exactly what they want me to think.

I, the owner, am in Europe, and the server is in Canada, as far as legal jurisdiction applies.

  • You should look into business insurance – Benjamin Pinkert Dec 27 '14 at 2:58
  • I would also suggest asking an attorney. Many will talk to you and give advice for free. Especially for something like this. It may be that all you will need is a disclosure of some sort that absolves you of liability and making it a clear link on a web page somewhere. – closetnoc Dec 27 '14 at 3:20
  • @BenjaminPinkert Right now the site is just a hobby for me. Should I be looking into incorporating as a business or sole trader? We don't provide any paid products or services. – Concerned in UK Dec 27 '14 at 12:02
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There are a couple of things that you should do that are just common sense, and while you should seek legal advice from a lawyer. They're going to tell you the same thing. The only difference is they'll help you draft these documents.

You need the following:

  1. A public "privacy policy" for users to read.
  2. Require all users to accept a "terms and conditions" agreement.

Try to keep a couple of things in mind when drafting these documents.

  1. It's your service. You are the owner. These documents should clarify that to the users.
  2. Explain what is acceptable behavior on your website.
  3. Decide for yourself if and what you will moderate.

The problems you are having are the same problems every other website is having. People are using these services but they aren't the owners. It's the owners who are held accountable for what they've created.

Are you creating thepiratebay and willing to do some time in jail? or are you more conservative and want to play it safe.

That's up to you.

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