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Have you actually read the terms for any of these recognizable sites?

When I signed up for Facebook in 2005 and Twitter in 2008, I most definitely did not read the Terms and Conditions for either site. I was more concerned with becoming part of the conversation on each social network.

Most of us don’t read the fine print, whether it’s signing up for a social media site or signing an apartment lease, as it takes too long. Our instructor Justin Kings mentioned in this week’s lecture that he didn’t fully read all of the paperwork he was signing while buying a car and most of us can relate to this.

Length is a big thing I would change in re-drafting Facebook and Twitter‘s Terms and Conditions. Of course, I wouldn’t do away fully with the long documents full of legalese, as this can protect the companies in the instance that someone wants to sue them. However, I would make a more basic, user-friendly terms document that would provide a link to the full terms should someone want to read them.

I would also make the user agree to each term, paragraph-by-paragraph, to ensure they actually read them. (Of course, there wouldn’t be too many paragraphs.) I’m no lawyer, but here’s what I think the user-friendly terms should look like:

You promise to be an ethical Internet citizen when using our services. Bullying and spamming other users will not be tolerated. If you see other users engaging in such practices, please report it to us so that we may take appropriate action against that user including but not limited to termination of their account.

We will respect your privacy. We will not sell or share your information with third-parties without your consent. However, you must remember that nothing you post on social media is truly private. Even with privacy settings, your friends can still copy, download or share any content you post.

We are not liable for any losses, perceived or actual, from using our services. You are using our services “as-is” and agree to not hold us liable for any information you come across from using our site. Other humans are posting the information, so we cannot guarantee the authenticity of that information.

If you wish to no longer share your information with us, you may delete your account. It will take some time, about 30 days, for your data to clear out of our system, but once it does, we will not hold any more of your information. However, information that you shared with friends during usage of the site that was not deleted may live on.

This, of course is a very limited Terms and Conditions list, but I think it is a good jumping off point for Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to create a shorter, more user-friendly terms page that people will actually read!