Reading The Fine Print

Terms and conditions are a hotly debated issue in the realm of social media. Do people read them? If so, do they do everything they can to follow them? I can tell you that I have not read the terms and conditions for anything since I was probably in middle school over a decade ago. In fact, I think the last terms and conditions document I read may have been when I downloaded iTunes for the first time. If I were to make an assumption, I would say that if people wanted to read the terms and conditions, they maybe started the document and gave up when they realized it would take far too long to read. With absolutely no data to back it up, I would venture a guess that less than five percent of people read the terms and conditions.

Facebook is my main channel of choice for most of my personal and professional social media use. After reading their terms and conditions, or Statement of Rights and Responsibilities as they like to call it, there would be some things I would either take out or word differently. Under the “Sharing Your Content and Information” section, I was confused by the ability to use IP content and how intellectual property rights are involved. I realize this may fall under legal instead of ethical, but if there are intellectual property rights, why can Facebook use any photos or videos that I as a user would post? What I might do if I were to revise the terms and conditions is to either add a short blurb or a link to the definition of intellectual property rights. That way ethically Facebook can fully explain how they are allowed to use the photos or videos. If the users don’t want to read it, that’s their own fault. That would be in keeping with the language of the document, placing the responsibility on the user for agreeing and living up to the terms.

In the “Safety” section, I think they should either come down harder on offenders of logging into another user’s account or they should take it out of the document. Many of us in the program have at one time or another logged in for a friend who willingly gave you their login information. Clearly this doesn’t always work the way they want it to, but people only give out that information to people they really trust. Finally, the last point I want to mention is about creating multiple accounts, which is under the “Registration and Account Security” section. I know many college friends who have one account for personal use while the other is for business. I have yet to hear about someone being reprimanded for having multiple accounts, so I think Facebook is being ethically misleading  by having that rule in the document if they aren’t going to enforce it.

Since I don’t use Twitter or Instagram nearly as often as I do Facebook, I will save my analysis of their Terms and Conditions for my weekly reading reaction. What do you think of my alterations to Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities? Let me know in the comments.


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