Social Media Contract Theory?

So I got to randomly thinking about social contract theory and how a new equivalent might just be how we use social network sites, groups and “friends” from a behavioral norm perspective which all have implied social constraints. So what is [tag]social contract theory[/tag], from wikipedia:

The term social contract describes a broad class of philosophical theories whose subjects are the implied agreements by which people form nations and maintain a social order. In laymen’s terms, this means that the people give up some rights to a government in order to receive social order. Social contract theory provides the rationale behind the historically important notion that legitimate state authority must be derived from the consent of the governed. The starting point for most of these theories is a heuristic examination of the human condition absent from any social order, termed the “state of nature” or “natural state”. In this state of being, an individual’s action is bound only by his or her conscience. From this common starting point, the various proponents of social contract theory attempt to explain, in different ways, why it is in an individual’s rational self-interest to voluntarily subrogate the freedom of action one has under the natural state (their so called “natural rights”) in order to obtain the benefits provided by the formation of social structures.

So as we participate in social media, there is clearly acceptable and non-acceptable activities, both implicit and explicit. To that end, to register on a social networking site, we all of course have to accept the terms of services, which restricts something/requires giving up some freedom of action or is an explicit set of constructs. Below is an example [tag]TOS[/tag] from [tag]Utterz[/tag] below:

We’re glad you’ve chose to use our Utterz℠ Service, where you can share your voice, your pictures, and your life with your friends and the entire Utterz community.

First and foremost: your privacy is important to us. We won’t share your personal information with anyone.

By using and Utterz Service, you agree to the following terms and conditions:

  1. You must be 13 years of age or older to use Utterz.
  2. It is your responsibility to keep your login and other information private, and you are responsible for any content (sounds, voices, pictures, or any other material) that is posted to Utterz by you or under any of your accounts or cell phone.
  3. You may not use Utterz for any unlawful purposes, including violations of copyright law.
  4. You own all content that you post on Utterz, and by posting any content, you grant Utterz the perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, sublicensable right to display that content in any form on any Utterz Service (whether by phone or over the internet) or anywhere else, without limitation. You also agree that you will only use any Content you view at Utterz for your own personal, non-commercial use.
  5. By posting at, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless Utterz for anything posted on any Utterz Service under your screen name or from your cell phone., or otherwise related to your use of any Utterz Service.
  6. You will not post any content which is offensive, obscene, hateful, or indecent, or which violates the rights of anyone else. You won’t threaten anyone, promote violence or any behavior which would be a civil or criminal offense.
  7. You may not use any Utterz Service to send unwanted email, IM, voice, or text messages to anyone.
  8. You won’t violate any security systems; transmit worms, viruses, or any other malicious code; or do anything destructive to or using any Utterz Service.
  9. Utterz is free to use, but you are responsible for any charges or fees charged by other service providers, like your cell phone carrier or internet service provider.
  10. You give us permission to contact you electronically when we need to.
  11. We can change these Terms of Service in the future if we need to, and by continuing to use any Utterz Service, you agree to any such changes. If any change is “material,” in our sole discretion, we will notify you by email.

We may change or terminate the Utterz Service, at any time or for any reason, without notice. And we may (but we are not obligated to) remove any content posted on any Utterz Service at any time, for any reason.

We reserve the right to terminate your account and right to use any Utterz Service if, in our sole opinion, you violate any of these Terms, or if you do anything else that might harm others or any Utterz Service. We can also refuse to provide access to the Utterz Service to any person, at any time, for any reason….

While the legalese of most of these represent CYA for the service provider, we do agree to forfiet, without warning content created and/or agree to publish within a set of agreed to parameters. So is the ToS a literal social contract? or is the “network members” the author of the new social media contract?

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