do you really have to remind people that you're not responsible for the entire internet?

Big scary lawyer warning

Be honest — how many of you have web sites that show a Big Scary Lawyer Warning (BSLW) like this when a member clicks a link to another site?

OH NOES! You are leaving the ABCFCU web site! ABFCU has no control over and is not responsible for the content or privacy practices of other web sites. ABCFCU does not endorse or guarantee products, information or recommendations provided by linked sites and is not liable for failure of products or services advertised on these site. So if you click a link somewhere else and your toes fall off, don’t come running to us!

Is this REALLY necessary?

I don’t think it ever was. Yes, of course you should make it clear when someone is leaving your site, but do you really have to remind people that you’re not responsible for the entire internet? Besides, who’s going to read all that?

When you depart the parking lot at Dunkin’ Donuts, they don’t force you to stop the car and sign a form stating that Dunkin’ Donuts is not liable for the condition of the roads or the quality of the donuts over at the Krispy Kreem down the street. You’re going from one place to the other using a device (car/web browser) made especially for that purpose. In both cases, you have to assume that users accept the basic nature and risks of what they’re doing.

It’s far better to have a simpler, gentler warning that gets the point across without getting in the way or causing fear and doubt. A simple “You are leaving ABCFCU’s web site.” tells the user everything they need to know, and might actually be read and understood.

It’s also important to remember that by placing an outside link on your site, you are in fact offering the credit union’s implicit endorsement of the other site. And for many outside web sites, you do want the member to know that the other site is completely trustworthy — it’s OK to enter your personal information on the other site to order checks, apply for a mortgage, etc. Showing a BSLW for these sites makes even less sense.

Of course, you still have to be careful about which links you post on your site. If a site stops working or has a problem, it can reflect badly on your CU. Therefore, you should keep a list of your web site’s offsite links and review them periodically to make sure they all still work as intended.

Brian Wringer

Former watermelon farmer Brian Wringer wears several hats for iDiz Incorporated, including Web Projects Manager, Wordsmith, and Big Idea Guy. He builds better credit unions by day and weird old motorcycles by night.

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