Terms of service and bills of rights: new mechanisms of constitutionalisation in the social media environment?
|Published in:||International Review of Law, Computers & Technology|
From a cursory look at the terms of service of the main social networking websites, it is immediately possible to detect that Facebook’s show a peculiar configuration. Although they represent a mere contract between private parties, these terms adopt the traditional jargon of constitutional texts and articulate their contents in terms of rights, principles and duties. This curious pairing between norms regulating social media and the constitutional sphere is also apparent in a series of non-binding documents that are unequivocally named ‘bill of rights’ and seek to articulate a set of principles to protect social media users. This paper examines whether the emergence of a constitutional tone in this limited number of texts could be related to the effective, or aspirational, constitutional function that these documents exercise. The identification of a series of significant shortcomings will lead to exclude that social media’s terms of service and bills of rights of social media users currently play a constitutionalising role. Nevertheless, the possibility to theoretically justify the use of these documents as mechanisms of constitutionalisation in the social media environment will be adduced as an evidence of the potential constitutional aspirations of these texts.
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