Should I Read Terms and Conditions on Websites I sign up to
A survey conducted by the Fairer Finance revealed that 73% of adults do not admit to reading the terms and conditions when they sign up for something. Different reports have also suggested that fewer than 12% of people glance through the terms and conditions of a website or service. Of the people who do read the terms and conditions, a low 17% of them say that they understand them.
One reason that this can be attributed to is the terms and conditions for some companies tally at more than 30,000 words which is the length of a small book. Many people simply do not have the time and patience to read that much. It’s made worse by the fact that the public is forced to read and agree to many terms and conditions daily whenever they attempt to use a website or service.
Even companies are guilty of not reading the terms and conditions. A famous example of this is when Dmitry Agarkov rewrote his credit card contract. His bank signed it leaving Dmitry with the perfect credit card. There were no fees and no limits. He even inserted a clause which forced the bank to pay him if it broke the contract.
Another famous example was conducted by two communications professors about why it is so important to read the terms and conditions. It was conducted by Jonathan Obar of York University in Toronto and Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch of the University of Connecticut. They wanted to see if people actually read online contracts, license agreements, terms of service, privacy policies and other agreements.
They created a fake company called NameDrop which was supposed to be a new, fancy social network. Hundreds of college students clicked on the big shiny join button with them agreeing to abide by NameDrop’s terms of service. It seemed like nothing was out of the ordinary, other than paragraph 2.3.1 which agreed to give NameDrop their future first-born children. This experiment proved that almost no one reads the terms and conditions before clicking the I agree button.
While it is impossible to cover everything, these types of software are the most common offenders when it comes to taking advantage of users who don’t read the terms and conditions.
Free mobile apps
There are many apps which are advertised as free but nothing in life is really free. While most of these apps are supported by advertisements, some of them could be accessing your personal data and selling it to buyers. Read through the terms and services carefully to avoid being taken for a ride.
Photo sharing websites
Many people incorrectly assume that they will always own the intellectual property rights to their photographs. Uploading the photographs to photo sharing websites shakes that up quickly with many websites having a clause that states that they retain the rights to use your photographs in any way that they see fit.
It has been observed by many people that text ads in email inboxes are scarily accurate. There have been instances of baby clothing ads appearing after having a baby and local restaurants magically popping up after discussing dinner plans with friends. Agreeing to the terms and conditions of email service providers can make you a conduit for targeted advertisements.
We live in an age where we are forced to agree to the terms and conditions of many companies to use their services. Fortunately, if you do find something you disagree with in the terms and conditions, there is usually an alternative you can try. If you don’t fancy wading through pages and pages of text, try https://tosdr.org/ . It is a website which aims to protect users online rights for them by reading the terms and conditions of websites for you so that you don’t have to.
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