It might not feel like a legally binding contract, but clicking that little box next to “I Agree” is the same as signing your name on a bank loan. The difference is you probably read all the fine print on your bank loan contract, hopefully. What about any one of the many Terms and Conditions you had to agree to in order to enjoy all of the apps you’ve downloaded? iTunes? Spotify? Facebook? Probably not even one word. That’s ok, well, not if you value your privacy, but at least it makes you part of the majority in this case. It turns out, only 7% of people read the entire terms and conditions documents online, which is surprisingly a higher percentage than expected. Another surprise is that only about 20% of people have really suffered from not reading them beforehand.
The Scam Within The Scam
Whenever you register for a website, download an app, buy something online or sign up for an online service, you are, nine times out of 10, asked to accept the terms and conditions. Be extra cautious if you’re not because then it’s definitely a scam. As opposed to the scam, most companies are running on you by sharing or selling all of your personal data they collect while you use their product. Especially the free apps, free online services, and free downloads. Didn’t you ever wonder how those companies made any money giving away a free product? The scam is that you are actually the product being sold. More specially, your data is the product being shared and sold to the highest bidder. Some bidders want to know how best to get you to buy their product. Other bidders wish to manipulate your voting choices and potentially change the course of history. You’ll never know, though, since you didn’t read the Terms and Conditions that said that information is basically none of your business, and you have no legal right to have any say in what these companies do with all your data.
License To Feel
For example, Facebook, the baddest bully on the block, has the license to use all of your photos in whatever capacity they choose, even after you’ve deleted your account. Meaning they can put your picture on an advertisement for any product under the sun, and there’s nothing you can do about it. They also “reserve the right” to use your data to improve their services (doubtful) or conduct psychological experiments. They’ve found ways to alter your mood using an algorithm that moves posts around from friends in your feed or reminds you of a moment from your past accordingly. If that doesn’t surprise you, then maybe you’ll be surprised to learn that they have been doing for over seven years.
Agree to Disagree
Many of us are starting to see the light in the dark black hole of endless User Agreement documents thanks to all the trouble Facebook has seen in recent years. Before that, not many people raised the question of relinquishing control over all of our personal information so willingly just for a social media platform. Even if they did, their voices would not be heard until the story became front-page news. Unfortunately, for many of us, the news came too late as we have already clicked “I Agree” too many times to remember at this point in our lives. And so have our children.
The Devil In The Details
Even with this information, not many of us are likely to thoroughly read any future Terms and Conditions contracts we come across because there’s a sense that the damage is already done. Few have braved taking on these goliaths in hopes of regaining control over their data, but the devil is in the details. Both parties must agree to the terms and conditions and uphold their end of the deal to create a legally enforceable agreement. You better believe that Spotify is going through all your photos, and Netflix will most definitely not be held liable if all your information gets hacked while using their product.