Today's Tip: Learn From eBay-PayPal Split

Today's Tip: Learn From eBay-PayPal Split

The eBay/PayPal split came as a pleasant surprise to some, a disappointment to others, and was an expected and smart business move to some.

One thing that everyone can agree on is that users of both services have been very adequately notified about the resulting legal updates and implications thanks to a very thorough and successful notification campaign by eBay.

Your business can learn a lot from how this split was handled in regard to letting users know about major changes that impact legal agreements such as User Agreement and Privacy Notice.

Even if your website or business isn't splitting into two separate companies or merging with another company, there's still a number of significant changes that can heavily impact the legal agreements your business has with users.

Some major changes that would call for a notification update campaign can include:

  • Changes to the way personal data is collected, used and processed
  • Anything that would affect the privacy of users

Basically, anything that can possibly have an impact on any of your users should be brought to their attention before the legal agreement comes into effect.

These kind of update campaigns are an excellent way to keep your users informed and aware during times of major changes to your legal agreements.

Step 1: Organize the update

Good organization and clear breakdowns of your Terms of Service and Privacy Policy agreements are always important but may be especially important during times of updates and major changes.

Pointing out changes and summarizing new material makes it very easy for your users to know exactly what is different and new.

If your users are informed of a change in a clear and concise way, it will be more difficult for them to claim they didn't know or didn't understand what had changed.

This will help safeguard your website or mobile app against arising legal issues where users may violate your terms and then claim they hadn't agreed to the terms because they hadn't known about the additional or changed terms.

A simple banner notice that things are changing is a very effective way to catch the attention of users. In the banner ad, link to a more thorough, detailed page where all questions can be answered and information can be found.

Below is the simple but effective way that the eBay and PayPal split was announced to visitors to the eBay site. Notice the clear language and the prominent Learn More link:

Header notice on eBay PayPal split and its User & Privacy agreements

Clicking on the Learn More link in the banner takes users to a page with additional links to the full text of the "User Agreement" and the "Privacy Policy" agreements for both individual companies, as well as a FAQ section that answers common questions that people concerned about the split may have about how the split will affect them.

This is a fantastic way to give notice to your users that more information is available, and provide them with access to it in a convenient way.

Step 2: Summarize the updates

Summaries are an excellent way to get your users engaged and caring about finding out more about how their data is treated.

Here's eBay summary:

On eBay Website: An Update To Our Customers

This special FAQ section is very focused on how the split of these companies will impact users' privacy. This is a creative way of breaking down relevant sections of a Privacy Policy by giving the sections more context.

It's also a very effective way of taking users to exactly where they want to go and giving them the specific information they need, quickly and easily, without needing to read through lengthy paragraphs or scan full sections of text.

Showing the actual separation of not only PayPal and eBay, but the separation of the "User Agreement" and the "Privacy Policy" agreement is another effective way of making sure that users are aware that there will now be 2 separate "User Agreement" and 2 separate "Privacy Policy" agreements.

A simple pop-up notice or alert will let users know when these new terms take effect, and how users will be considered to be in agreeance with and accepting of the terms if they visit the Privacy Notice page of eBay.

Note the brief but concise notice below:

eBay Privacy Notice Update

Checklist: Steps to take

These basic steps are taken to alert the public of the eBay/PayPal split and the resulting impact of can be taken by any website, business, or mobile app for any major change that may have huge effects on users and their personal information.

  1. Alert visitors of major changes with pop-ups or prominent banners that provide a link to a more thorough page of information on the changes.

    Here's how Pinterest notified users about future changes in their Privacy Policy.

    This simple but informative banner is impossible for users to miss and includes an effective date, and links to the full agreement as well as a What's New summary.

  2. Pinterest Notification Of New Privacy Policy

  3. Break down the changes as much as possible.

    Summarize what the main changes are, and how your users' privacy or expected usage of the website or mobile app will be affected by these changes.

    This makes changes far more understandable and clear to your users.

    The following Summary of Changes from the Privacy Policy of LinkedIn update lets users know quickly and clearly exactly what has changed, section by section, without making them have to go through each section and scout for differences:

    LinkedIn Privacy Policy Summary Page

    Consider doing something like this for all major changes and updates to your website or mobile app legal agreements. Your users will thank you.

  4. Make it clear when the changes take effect, and how users will be considered to fall under the new changes.

    Include a date of effectiveness, and what actions, if any, must be taken by your users.

    Another example below from Pinterest shows how information about upcoming changes is shared with users. The effective date is easily visible:

    Pinterest New Privacy Policy

    Go one step further and use media to inform your users of changes to Terms of Service or Privacy Policies and highlight why these changes are important.

    Making a short and informative video, such as LinkedIn's example, can be an entertaining way to connect people with information in a fun and quick way that engages them differently than text does.

    People are far more likely to watch a video than they are to read through the legal text. Take advantage of this to reach a wider audience and make sure your legal updates are made clear to your users.

Sara P.

Sara P.

Law school graduate, B.A. in English/Writing. In-house writer.

This article is not a substitute for professional legal advice. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor is it a solicitation to offer legal advice.