Whenever you sign up for an email or a social media account, there’s a “TOS” that you will have to agree to and comply with. But what does TOS mean? We will break down the TOS meaning so you can finally understand this acronym before agreeing to anything.
What Does TOS Mean?
TOS stands for Terms of Service. When you sign up for an account with a company like Google or Facebook, there is often a link at the bottom that says “Terms and Conditions.” This document contains all the rules about how to use their products.
TOS is typically used when referring to those terms in general as well. If you violate any of these guidelines (like posting hate speech and inappropriate content), chances are your account will be suspended or deleted.
TOS can vary from one website to another. For instance, Facebook and YouTube clearly outline that nudity or copyright infringements are not allowed.
When Did the Acronym TOS Start Being Used?
It is unknown when the acronym TOS (Terms of Service) was first used.
But the earliest known usage of “TOS” in this context dates back to a CompuServe forum post from 1990 [“CompuServe’s new ‘Terms Of Satisfaction’ (in beta)” by Ron Edwards].
In 1991, there were two mentions on Usenet, both referencing Compuserv: one from April 18th and another from June 22nd [both archived here]. The term didn’t become common until much later – it seems that it started being used regularly around 1998-1999.
Other TOS Meaning
TOS can also mean Total Operating System. It refers to a computer operating system with an interface that allows users to access and manipulate text, pictures, video, or sound files on their computers; examples include Windows XP or Mac OS X.
IBM first used it in 1969 when they launched the 360 lines of mainframe computers, including models 3030/4050/7090. They were designed with built-in disk storage capabilities and provided data sorting services without requiring additional hardware like punched card readers or sorting machines.
With the release of IBM’s Personal Computer in 1981, Microsoft developed a version called MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System) that would work on their new personal computers and later Windows operating systems.
In computing, “TOS” can also refer to Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol.
The acronym TOS is still used today as an all-inclusive term for any computer system or OS with purposes including games, word processing, emailing, surfing the web – to name just a few.
When to Use the Acronym TOS?
TOS refers to a contract between two parties outlining their respective responsibilities and liabilities under an agreement.
The term may also mean the Operating System (software). In this case, TOS refers to the operating system that runs on your computer or mobile device.
This can lead to how it’s different from AUPs, which are Acceptable Use Policies. These policies outline what you’re allowed to do with information online. In contrast, TOSes typically specify payment terms/restrictions for users who access a website’s services.
TOS may also apply to how you use and not to misuse features of your device like the camera or microphone.
“Web” TOS are agreed upon between two parties when using an online website. On the other hand, “Mobile” TOS refers specifically to agreements made with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
A common example would be agreeing on certain payment methods based on usage limits, if any at all, before loading up a web browser which could affect whether or not ads show up.
This can occur during registration through pre-set options within the app’s settings menu, depending on the software developer’s discretion.
On tablet/PC applications, TOSes will usually be located in the app’s menu settings, allowing for more customizable options like disabling location tracking by default.
In some cases, you must accept and agree to terms of service before using an online service or application such as Facebook and Google; this is also true with mobile applications where you agree to certain conditions when downloading them from Apple Store/Android.
Examples of Using TOS
- “It was important to look at the Terms of Service (TOS) if I wanted to protect my privacy.”
- “I signed up on Hulu without reading their Terms of Service. It wasn’t until it asked me about payment information did I realize that I hadn’t read the fine print.”
- “I was not too happy to see their Terms of Service (TOS). From what it said, it didn’t seem like something I wanted to agree on, so then I deleted my account. They were asking for way too much information about me even though it’s just an online service provider!”
- “This app is free, but you have to give them your phone number. Are these TOS or AUPs?”