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Communicating On and Outside of Upwork - Terms of Service Changes

daryl_sando
Staff

Today, Upwork users can, with certain exceptions, share contact information and communicate with each other outside of the Upwork platform. Unfortunately, communicating outside of Upwork raises risks for talent and clients in our community, while undermining the wellbeing of the marketplace. 

 

To protect our community, we are making changes to our Terms of Service that will require all pre-contract communications take place on Upwork and no contact information to be shared before a contract is started. These changes will become effective June 26, 2020. 

 

Here we would like to tell you about these changes so you can understand what they entail and why we are making them.  

 

WHY ARE WE MAKING THESE CHANGES?

 

The goal of these changes is to create a safe environment in which both talent and clients can thrive. We have found that when users communicate outside of Upwork there is an increased risk in fraud, scam, circumvention, and other behaviors that harm our community. But when communications and work stay on the Upwork platform, not only can we track, verify, and address any issues that emerge, the potential for these behaviors to cause harm decreases dramatically. For example, the vast majority of scammers that take advantage of talent on Upwork do so by taking work or communications off the platform. 

 

When relationships are maintained on Upwork, those outcomes become part of the record on the platform, providing transparency for other users into the reputation and success of other professionals and talent. This transparency allows for better connections, stronger relationships, and ultimately more success for professionals and clients. 

 


WHAT ARE THE CHANGES?

 

These changes apply to Section 7 of the User Agreement:

 

  1. Professionals and clients may not request or share any contact information before a contract is started

Before a contract has started, professionals and clients won’t be able to ask for or share contact information with each other that would allow them to make contact outside of Upwork. This includes requesting or providing contact details in a profile, job post, proposal, invite, or message, which is an expansion from the current restriction on contact information sharing that was limited to just profiles and job postings. 

 

Update: Freelancers and clients may not request or share any contact information* before a contract is started, with one exception.  A client or freelancer may only share contact information if it is for the sole purpose of giving the other party access to a system that allows them to scope the project in advance. This allows freelancers to review a project prior to a contract so they can determine if they have the needed skills, how many hours it will take, etc. 

 

This change also provides more clarity on what constitutes contact information, which will include but not be limited to: 

  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Physical address
  • Link to a contact form or form requesting contact information
  • Link to an applicant management system or means to submit a proposal or application outside of Upwork
  • Any information that would enable contact through social media, other website, platform, or application (i.e., Skype or WhatsApp IDs)

 

  1. Users must conduct all pre-contract conversations (aka interviews) through the Upwork platform

As professionals and clients meet and engage on Upwork, they will need to maintain their communications - whether messages, phone, or video calls - through the Upwork platform until a contract has started. 

 

  1. Exception

Our larger business partners often have specific requirements and business needs that make it more difficult to use our communications exclusively. Clients who utilize Upwork Business and Enterprise solutions are permitted to request and share contact information, as well as conduct interviews or pre-contract communications, outside of Upwork. This exception extends to professionals’ communications with an Upwork Business or Enterprise client. 

 


HOW ARE WE ENABLING THESE CHANGES?

 

To support these changes, we have also made improvements to our internal Message Center. We recently upgraded our call and video systems to provide more consistent uptime and a higher quality of service. These changes have provided improvements in user experience and overall user satisfaction. We have enhanced the user experience to provide more straightforward access to this service and flexibility in viewing. Lastly, we are continuing to prioritize improvements to the Message Center to ensure our users have a best in class experience in communicating with each other. Find out more about these upgrades here

 

Our goal: To keep the Upwork community safe

These changes will help keep Upwork’s marketplace somewhere for both professionals and clients to thrive while preventing breaches of trust that put the community at risk. If you have any questions, please comment below or contact Upwork Help.

 

The updated Terms of Service will become effective June 26, 2020.

 

Daryl Sando, Sr. Manager

Upwork Trust & Safety

 

**UPDATE**

 

We appreciate feedback shared on this thread about this upcoming change. We’d like to address and highlight a few concerns that came up multiple times on this thread.

 

  • Many of you noted that you often need to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement prior to accepting an offer. We've heard your feedback and made the decision to make an exception regarding legal documents. If prior to starting a contract a legal document must be shared that includes contact informaton (such as NDAs), this will be permitted.

 

  • We understand that many of you need to share large files with your freelancers and clients. Users are free to share files via Upwork Messages at any time. Documents can be added into Messages for sharing or you can use Upwork’s  integration with Dropbox to share files. If critical project information is stored in a system that requires an email address to access, you can share your email address for this purpose only. Remember all communications before a contract starts must take place on Upwork. 

 

  • You can share a portfolio that’s not on Upwork. We know sharing your past work is important. Therefore, you can share links to external portfolios when you submit a proposal. Note: We understand external portfolios may include contact information. If you cannot remove that information, please ask the client to only contact you via Upwork.

 

  • We understand that many of you need a way to schedule meetings and interviews via a calendar. Upwork Messages enables users to quickly coordinate interview timing and conduct live interviews using the call feature. We’re constantly looking at ways to improve this experience so we appreciate your feedback.

 

  • We’d like to confirm that calls made through Upwork Messages are not recorded. We encourage users to report violations of any sections of our TOS including these changes. We also have mechanisms in place to identify and flag TOS violations
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