The Stackexchange websites use gravatar. According to Gravatar's Terms of Service

Use of the Services by Third Party Websites. Third party websites may enable the use of the Services on their respective websites as expressly authorized by Automattic ... have a privacy policy in effect and posted on such website that complies with all applicable laws and regulations and that notifies such user that it will only use personally identifiable information as set forth in (ii) above; and (iv) agree to be bound by and comply with all the terms, conditions, and limitations set forth in the Terms of Service (“Gravatar-enabled website”). (edited)

The full Gravatar TOS is here

I went through Stackexchange.com/legal.

I found these two to be somewhat relevant

  1. 3) Subscriber Content
    You agree that all Subscriber Content that You contribute to the Network is perpetually and irrevocably licensed to Stack Exchange under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license.

  2. 7) Registration and security
    As a condition to using Services, Subscriber may be required to register with Stack Exchange and select a password and profile name. Subscriber shall provide Stack Exchange with accurate, complete, and updated registration information, including Subscriber’s e-mail address

These two may be used to say that, since the user has given SE license to use its email, SE can use a hash of the email for the gravatar service. Thus freeing SE from making a reference to Gravatar's TOS.

I read through the privacy policy given here. I ran a "site:stackexchange.com/legal gravatar" search on google, but found no results.

How does Stackexchange cover the usage of Gravatar in its Terms of Service/Privacy Policy?


  1. Stackexchange Legal
  2. Gravatar TOS
  3. Stackexchange Privacy Policy
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  • 1
    To be fair to SE they've been certified as Safe Harbour compliant. The EU is going down the route of you're not allowed to do anything with data. Some consultations currently going on would destroy hundreds of billions of revenue. The US seems to go down the opposite route (from a foreigners point of view) you must supply them everything about your life before you can enter the country. Internally it may be different but Safe Harbour was a way to combine these two things into something satisfactory to all 28 countries. There are a lot worse things out there. – ben is uǝq backwards Nov 8 '12 at 18:44
  • Just a note about the above (where I was probably unduely harsh). Moving US data out of the country is fraught with troubles, especially any data that might be construed to be personal, which was another reason for Safe Harbour. – ben is uǝq backwards Nov 8 '12 at 18:50
  • @Ben After reading about gravatar's email id privacy issue, I wanted to know if websites were declaring the use of gravatar to us end users in any way, as it involves potentially personal data. – abel Nov 8 '12 at 18:51
  • 2
    As a side note, is there a good reason for the forced use of gravatar for all avatar images in SE sites ? The problem of having an image linked to an email address is big and evident, whatever the TOS (it's one of my main grips with SE and the reason why I don't use the avatar I'd like to use). – Denys Séguret Nov 8 '12 at 19:54

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