Many websites are aimed at children, and many that aren't aimed at children are used by them. Although not all website operators seek to enter into contractual relationships with users, many do; and there lies a problem. The general rule of English law is that individuals under 18 years of age - minors in the legal jargon - are not bound by any contracts that they may enter into. In some circumstances, even where the child is bound, such contracts are voidable at the option of the child.
The legal risks associated with running a social networking service are not just of academic interest. Examples of lawsuits abound. The UK's own Friends Reunited found itself on the wrong end of a defamation claim a full decade ago. More recently, during 2011, MySpace was accused of supplying personal information without the consent of users. Just two days ago, hard on the heels of Facebook's massively-hyped IPO, it was reported that the social networking giant was being sued in the US courts for a cool $15 billion over user tracking. In this short post, I'll outline 7 things you can do as a social networking site operator to help reduce these sorts of risks.