listen – laugh – love

A little taste of my Social Media love…

Do You Read the Fine Print?!

on May 22, 2014

Fine Print

When it comes to reading the “fine print” I’d rather watch paint dry – let’s be honest, terms and conditions are not a thrilling read for most people. Maybe the team of lawyers that created all that legal mumbo-jumbo enjoy reading it, but that’s probably the extent of folks who find it entertaining. In fact, according to a Fairer Finance survey, a whopping 73% of people surveyed admitted to not reading all the fine print! Furthermore, of those that actually do read the small print, only 17% say they really understand all of it!

Personally, the only time I might scan the information is when it comes to financial things – loans, leases, online shopping etc. When it comes to social media, it wasn’t until this week that I had even seen terms and conditions for platforms like Facebook and Twitter! After reading the details of each platform (that’s right, I read them) it’s clear that their legal teams had full control.

Something that is hard to ignore when reading through the terms of service is the use of three simple words, “you will not.” Here is a just a few of the bullets from Facebook’s safety section:

  • You will not post unauthorized commercial communications (spam) on Facebook.
  • You will not use Facebook to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious or discriminatory.
  • You will not create more than one personal account

YouThe list goes on and on! While Twitter does not rely so much on the “you will not” phrase, it does utilize the word “you” a nearly 145 times in their Terms of Service. I understand that users need to take responsibility for the content that they are producing; however, it seems that both of these platforms are relying a bit too much on the “you” and not enough on the “we.” It would be nice to see more of a partnership between the platform and the user, rather than a virtual finger pointing straight at “you.” While it’s basically impossible for the platforms to monitor every single piece of content that is being created and shared on their network, it wouldn’t hurt for them to take a slightly more active role.

It is certainly important, from a legal standpoint, to include all of that complicated legal verbiage; however it’s not very pleasing to the eye (or brain). If I were to rewrite the terms of service for either Facebook or Twitter, I would take a more reader friendly approach! By incorporating photos, infographics and videos we could easily make the boring process of reading terms and conditions interesting and even enjoyable! These items are already popular ways of sharing information via social media; why not incorporate them into explaining the platform’s terms of service? I do think that it’s important (and necessary) to keep that fancy legal language on the site; however, supplementing the boring information with more enjoyable options might encourage users to actually learn about the terms and conditions!

Ta-ta for now!

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One response to “Do You Read the Fine Print?!

  1. Hi Lacee,

    I’m just like you, I only read the fine print when I’m signing something like a lease. I guess I always figured that if over 1 billion people use Facebook, the terms and conditions must be acceptable without really needing to question it.

    I love your idea about using infographics. Infographics are interesting and can portray a lot of information in a small, appealing manner. I agree that making the fine print easier for people to understand is key to, well, making people understand them.

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