We’ve all seen it… the little pop up window that stops us in our tracks before we get to the page, game, or software program we want to use…the “terms and conditions” or “terms of service.” Some simply let you check off the “I agree” box, while others will make you scroll through the mini document before you are given the option to check off the “I agree” box. Either way, how many of us have actually read through the whole document before we accept the contract?
The few times I’ve actually scrolled through the document and skimmed it over, it took forever (okay maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit). So, you guessed it, I rarely ever actually read through the terms. I’m sure a number of us are either too busy to read it or don’t want to spend the time to do so! We’re eager t
o get to the page or game that we want to actually read or play instead. But, do we know what we’re agreeing to when we hit that “I accept” button? And how about apps on our phones? More often than not, the terms are compiled into a short list that’s easy for us to go through if we spend a few extra minutes to explore what we’re agreeing to.
I did a little bit of research and found this article which was published in December 2014. One of the most interesting lines I read was “ Out of all the TOS [Terms of Service] I have dealt with in 20 years, Facebook’s are the most intrusive. To be granted rights to track an individual’s movements, and thus the people that would be with those individuals, and to potentially commercially exploit without permission all pictures posted on Facebook without specific consent, is breath-taking. Users must take responsibility for their data. Facebook’s ability to exploit our data is contingent upon our allowing them to do so. It is up to us to value our privacy and to spend a few minutes setting some restrictions on the privacy settings.”
Out of all the TOS [Terms of Service] I have dealt with in 20 years, Facebook’s are the most intrusive.
After reading this, my main concern is the fact that privacy seems like an issue of the past. I remember when my parents used to store our SIN cards in a secure place, but I’m finding that a lot of people carry these in their wallets all the time! Nowadays, on Facebook alone, we share our birth date, gender, sexual orientation, home address, phone number, education, work, pictures (social and/or personal), our likes, dislikes, and more! I’ve even seen people post their driver’s license online — in my opinion, that’s asking for identity theft. But these days, it seems like people are simply not as worried about their privacy as even 10 years ago. More often than not, users value the use of social media sites such as Facebook over their own privacy, so we end up blindly giving away rights to our privacy just to be active online.
Have you ever noticed that when you’re logged into your Facebook while you’re shopping online, you start seeing a lot of advertisements from that specific site that you’ve been shopping on? I sure have, and many of my friends have also experienced this. They’ll either come up as “suggested pages” or there’ll be an advertisement snuck in there somewhere on your newsfeed. I’m not going to lie, I’m guilty of clicking on one of these links and I end up buying that item that I was eyeing, but decided against it before. It’s very interesting once you start to notice what’s really going on here. You’ve basically put together a profile, full of your demographics, your beliefs, and your values. It’s a dream for companies – they don’t have to seek you out because you’ve already put yourself out there. So, welcome to the world of non-stop advertisements, a place where your photos can be shared with anybody, and anybody can get into contact with you. Just takes one click.
Bottom line is, protect yourself and control what hits the internet because once it gets uploaded, there’s a high likelihood of it being there forever. I’d be a hypocrite if I said I read all of the terms before agreeing. I’d be a hypocrite of I said I always kept up with the new privacy settings. So, as one user to another, I encourage that we all at least try to become more conscious about the changes that a website goes through and what we agree to before we actually hit that “I agree” button.