Terms of Service - did you read them?

On a daily basis, the world shares, likes, comments, tweets, and retweets - most of that is random bits and pieces, some work related, some not so much, but it is all tied to the terms and conditions of service which most people don't read.

When you signed up to Facebook (FB), Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus etc. you had to confirm you wanted the account and to this day continue to use it, but did you read the terms of service, privacy policies or any of the other documentation that each company creates?.. odds are no you didn't - why? well it didn't occur to most of you that you are now part of a much larger, multinational entity did it!  As recently stated in the a reputable tech magazine, if you aren't paying for it - you are the product!

Well using Facebook as a prime example.  Whilst trying to turn my brain off last night, I came across a post telling what connections the person has 'they do not give Facebook or any entities permission to use their pictures, information, messages or posts both past and in the future' etc... you get the gist, we have all seen those posts, cringed and anyone with a little bit of interest would have goggled it! and here is what they would have found out.

Lets review the Terms of Service for Facebook.

Ever wondered what data they collect on you - here you go, their Data Policy

The data they collect includes 'the content and other information you provide when you use our Services, including when you sign up for an account, create or share, and message or communicate with others' and it doesn't stop there, they collect information on those associated to you, both your habits and theirs, what devices you use, where you live, your age, gender, demographic you fit into to, if you make payments via the network - they collect that information too.  They also like to know what apps you use, why you use them, when you use them, and those third party companies send their data to FB.

Why do they even need that information.  Well, have you ever seen those tailored ads? They appear on the right side of your 'wall'.  Well they are part of the reason.  FB also use the data they collect to tailor services to your needs.  If you read my previous article, I spoke about John and Mary who were on a Safari Holiday.  John had posted images using Geo Location so the world knew where he and Mary were at that time.  Well FB also use that location information to set services in your area, or as they put it 'When we have location information, we use it to tailor our Services for you and others, like helping you to check-in and find local events or offers in your area or tell your friends that you are nearby' a little bit too much inside knowledge for my personal liking!

If your profile and posts are set to Public - well you have given the world permission to view it.  It's in your hands to change who sees it!

Now FB isn't silly from a company perspective - they allow you to see what your activity has been like, or download a copy of it if you wish.  However, if you wish to delete items from your activity log, then you need to do it manually.

Now, lets have a quick look at the Terms of Service

A very through one page document that will tell you everything you need to know and most of us don't bother reading it. Here is what it says in short.

Like the ten commandments, they have ten basic principles

  1. Freedom to share and connect
  2. Ownership and control of information
  3. Free Flow of information
  4. Fundamental Equality
  5. Social Value
  6. Open Platforms and Standards
  7. Fundamental Service
  8. Common Welfare
  9. Transparent Process
  10. One World

They are straightforward - yes?!

Privacy is key on the platform, but at the end of the day, it's up to you to set privacy levels.  How many people have signed up and never thought of changing the privacy settings on their profiles.  Personally, my default setting is friends - frankly, if they have been added by me - then they are ok to see my About Tab information.  Then I have certain things I don't want (for example) clients to see - so I've a custom profile set for those posts which exclude particular people!  I have stuff I may want to post as a reminder to MYSELF so it is set to ME ONLY  - you catch it!

When it comes to sharing your content and information - they also take that seriously! So seriously, it's written in black and white that 'subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook' essentially - what you post, they own! So that photo of you belly dancing at the office party - they own it cause you posted it! so think carefully before you post! 

Lets talk Safety! 

Their are eleven simple and straightforward points here - the most important being they will not collect information without your permission.  Therefore, social media harvesting isn't as such a 'Facebook' thing, it's a little sad dude somewhere around the world who drinks far too much coffee and is prone to the odd can of red bull that collects your public information and uses it to their advantage, i.e. hacking your account out of sheer boredom! 


Here is the thing, every network has a few billion users, most social platforms do! and every day, even more sign up!  Facebook states a number of specific things, but thinking about it - how do you police it?!  If they reclaim your account, how do they know you haven't just created another email address and another account - heck, I have about five for work!

They also aim to protect your right to privacy - something a few people could do with enforcing.  No one needs to know when John or Mary got up, ate, how long they slept, how well they slept etc. you catch my thinking!

If you wish to dispute how anything on FB works, then I hope you can afford the fight to California for the court hearing!

Now they cover lots more besides what I have mentioned, but that is the bones of it.

What it comes down to is - if you are a social media user, then your intellectual property is yours until you post it online, then it is the company's.  If you have clicked complete registration and continue to use the platform, then you automatically agreed to the terms and conditions of that site.  If you are posting your personal information publicly - again, like a broken record, it's your fault the nerd attempts to hack you!

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