Why social media's T & Cs are tougher to digest than Dickens

Why social media's T & Cs are tougher to digest than Dickens

Really? I find Tolstoy worse
Agreed, but those social media apps are supposed to be understandable to all - including the 13 years olds who sign up to Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, and who seem to be on them permanently now that the summer holidays are in full swing.

My 13 year old hates Dickens
Exactly. Try sitting with him/her and going through Apple's terms and conditions - which Apple advises should be diligently done to "ensure that the child and parent or legal guardian understand it." It would take a university-educated parent 40 minutes, minimum. And endless, painful hours with a teen.

Who says?
The Beeb of course - who else in the media has free money to finance original editorial? They recently did a 'readability test' to work out the education level required to understand the legalese.

All 15 social media sites - from Spotify (the worst) to Netflix (the least worst) were more complicated than Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities and required graduate level comprehension. (BTW A Christmas Carol is the easiest - love.) Spotify's ran to over 13,000 words - almost as long Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors - and would take an average person, not Simon Cowell or a 13 year old, 53 minutes to read without a break.

So how long would all 15 sites take to read?
About 533 minutes - or around nine hours, without breaks. Don't you love the BBC's dedication to detail?

Why should I care? I never read any of them anyway
That's exactly what the big tech companies rely on. By pressing the 'I accept' button, you are saying 'take it all' and in some cases allow them to access and sell your personal details - and those of your children.

Ok now you have my attention!
According to Ofcom, more than eight in 10 children aged between five and 15 used YouTube last year. Countless under 13 year olds have Instagram accounts, a fact exposed by Channel Four recently, leading to Facebook promising to be more proactive in locking underage accounts.  When we sign up to a company's terms and conditions, as we all must, we agree to be bound by a privacy policy. And firms could be breaching European data rules by not clearly spelling out how they use you and your children's personal data.

How did the government respond?
One Mr Damien Collins, who chairs the House of Commons Culture Committee, said it wasn't enough "to print a load of gobbledegook, that you know no one will ever read, and say: 'Aha, we've got the right to do it because it says so in here'". The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) says it plans to develop an Age Appropriate Design Code.

Good luck with implementing that guys. (Surely Facebook would just pay the fine?)

So ... what exactly are we and our children giving away?
Our location. We blithely allow apps to track our precise locations through our phones' Global Positioning System (GPS). But even if you refuse the app permission, Facebook can still see where you are by tracking check-ins or events you attend. Do you really want any old body to know where your kids are?

Jeez. What else?
Apple and Amazon share your info with third parties. Facebook keeps your deleted searches - and tracks you even if you're off the app. LinkedIn reads your private messages 'in order to provide protection from malicious sites or spam'. Friendly.

Any good news?
The BBC found one gem buried in Apple's T&Cs. Do not use its devices for the "production of nuclear, missile or chemical or biological weapons". Just in case that was on your summer to-do list.

To find out exactly what info Facebook has on you, read here

The sad truth is you'll probably all still press 'I accept'

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