RAQs: Recently Asked Questions

Topic: Providing website disclaimers - 3/17/2020
With the Covid-19 pandemic, we are creating a Google Site where we are listing websites. I know I ...
Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2020 Permalink

MEMBER QUESTION

With the Covid-19 pandemic, we are creating a Google Site where we are listing websites. I know I have seen websites that post a disclaimer something to the effect that we are anticipating that the links are recommended, but that we cannot guarantee the veracity of the information. I am looking for preferred wording from a legal standpoint.

WNYLRC ATTORNEY'S RESPONSE

During a pandemic, reliable and verifiable information is critical.

Even as libraries are faced with challenges to their operations, they are working hard to ensure people have just that: solid information. 

This is a vital service, since what is needed is not only virus-related, but the details of how we hold our communities together: information on social services, operations of courts and other critical government functions, and the distribution of resources to those in need.

In all this, “bad” (unreliable) information can travel with the “good” (reliable) information. 

A good disclaimer alerts the reader to this in a resource-appropriate way.  Because of that, there is no “one size fits all” disclaimer.  But there is a formula for generating one.

An effective disclaimer alerts the reader to: 1) the reliability of the sources on a list; 2) the purpose of the list, and 3) the ability of the compiler to assure readers as to content’s continued quality.  For the broadest lists requiring the strongest disclaimers, re-directing the reader back to the best sources is a good practice to consider.

With that formula in mind, here are 4 sample disclaimers, based on the qualities of a list of links:

1.  Reliable/verifiable source, very specific purpose, specific date:

This compilation of links is limited to government sites’ updates on pandemic response as of [DATE]. 

 

2.  Reliable/verifiable source, broader purpose, rolling updates

This compilation of links is limited to CDC and local Department of Health updates on pandemic response and public health, and will be added to as resources grow. This situation is evolving rapidly; please alert us to any broken links. 

 

3.  Less verifiable/reliable sources, specific purpose, specific date

This list was assembled on DATE and gathers a diversity of information and sources regarding Covid-19 pandemic response.  [NAME] library cannot verify the links will remain active and cannot verify the veracity of content.  For the most reliable information regarding global and local pandemic response, visit the Center for Disease Control and [your local Department of Health].

 

4.  Broadest list, broadest disclaimer

This list of links gathers a diversity of information and sources regarding Covid-19 pandemic response and related issues, including resources for coping during a time of social distancing.  [NAME] library cannot verify the links will remain active and cannot verify the veracity of content.  For the most reliable information regarding global and local pandemic response, visit the Center for Disease Control and [your local Department of Health]. 

 

I hope this approach is helpful. Thank you for a good question and thank you for serving the public at this time of need.

Tags: COVID-19, Emergency Response, Disclaimers

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