Terms of Service agreements are part of every program and platform that we use every day, from social media to services and everything in between. The problem is, nobody ever reads them, or at very best only a very few people ever read them, and that’s being generous. Thankfully, many of the tech blogs do read them and make a point to let us know about any strange or potentially intrusive changes that are made to them from time to time. Of course, the average person doesn’t read those tech blogs either, so…
That leaves us where we started – the fact that most people don’t have the slightest clue about what Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, or any other social media site has put forth in their terms that we might not necessarily be thrilled about if we took the time to read their ToS agreements. In fairness, if we choose not to inform ourselves about such things then we’re responsible for agreeing to something we don’t like, not them.
Boiling the Frog
Most people have heard the analogy of boiling a frog – the idea that when things change slowly and gradually they’re either not noticed or are accepted, but sudden changes cause hesitation, shock, and reaction. The frog sits in the water while it heats up over time, getting used to the heat until it gets cooked. If you throw the frog into already boiling water, it jumps back out from the burning heat. The digital age kind works on us the same way sometimes. For example, almost everyone on Facebook has seen posts that their friends “endorse” because they liked a page. And you can be sure that your Facebook friends are seeing the same type of “endorsements” from you. Other social media ToS changes recently are pushing the envelope a little further.
LinkedIn’s most recent update opens the possibility of your privacy being exposed because of what your friends choose to share. The latest ToS update from SnapChat tells users that if they choose to share their image publicly, SnapChat now has the right to use their image and likeness. For what? Whatever they want, I guess. As these changes progress, the possibilities become interesting, weird, or creepy depending on your perspective.
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Now consider some of the cool new technologies and features that are always being added to various platforms. For instance, the SnapChat ‘face swap’.
Try putting all of these current terms and features together and see what you can come up with. Here’s one – you log in to your Facebook or Snapchat feed and see a commercial for a product with your friend’s face on the person in it. How weird would that be? Would you be okay with the opposite happening… your friend says they saw a commercial with you in it? Where do we draw the line on this type of thing, especially when it seems as though the platforms we use are ready to move that line back pretty far?