March 21, 2017
Social Media Privacy Terms Translated into Plain English, Finally
We fully expect our kids and our students to adhere to social media privacy terms with due diligence. Part of this is reading the terms and conditions portion of any network they sign up for. But when those conditions are presented as dozens of pages of jargon written at a post-graduate reading level, students lose interest quickly. For that matter, so do adults.
When was the last time you spent time absorbing a full set of privacy terms and conditions and understood everything that was being stated, honestly? Why not simplify things to both maximize understanding in an easily digestible manner? That's exactly what the examples below are meant to do.
Simpler is Better (We Hope)
We've chosen three of today's most popular social networks and given you a bit of news on how their terms and conditions have been revised recently. Hopefully, this is information your kids and students will be able to use to keep themselves safe when using social media.
Instagram: In this article on The Washington Post, Amy Wang talks about privacy lawyer Jenny Afia's efforts to make the terms of Instagram more understandable for students. She managed to condense their entire preamble into this one simple concise paragraph:
"You are responsible for any activity that occurs through your account and you agree you will not sell, transfer, license or assign your account, followers, username, or any account rights. With the exception of people or businesses that are expressly authorized to create accounts on behalf of their employers or clients, Instagram prohibits the creation of and you agree that you will not create an account for anyone other than yourself. You also represent that all information you provide or provided to Instagram upon registration and at all other times will be true, accurate, current and complete and you agree to update your information as necessary to maintain its truth and accuracy."
She went even further by summing this up into one single sentence: “Don’t use anybody else’s account without their permission or try to find out their login details.”
Twitter: Twitter has also jumped on the bandwagon, and offered up a simplified explanation of how they collect and use data from their users.
Facebook: The world's most popular social network has also given in to the demand to bring their own terms and conditions to a more understandable level. All the revised terms can be viewed here. No doubt it's still way too long, but it's far clearer than ever. This article on Vice features another discussion with a privacy lawyer concerning what Facebook's terms and conditions mean.
What This Means for Our Students
This chart from Pew Internet research will provide you with an idea of the demographics of how social media is being used.
In an article on The Guardian, Jessica Elgot writes that kids tend to sign over their privacy rights unknowingly, without reading terms and conditions with an understanding of what they mean. That's why there has been such a call for their simplification.
It's hoped that the move towards more digestible terms of privacy will urge not just students, but all users, to take social media digital citizenship practices into their own hands. In the end, it's important for anyone to know how their information could potentially be used online.
Additional Resources for Social Media Digital Citizenship
- Facebook Terms of Service Explained in Layman Terms
- TOSDR—Terms of Service Analyzer
- Social Media & Web 2.0 Terms of Service Database