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You probably use social media account, but when you were signing up did you stop to read the terms of service document? Or did you just click ‘Accept’ in a hurry so you can get on to worrying about which profile picture to place, and which friends you are going to connect with.

I am willing to bet on the latter, because that is what I and most people do. Yes, we know we should read the terms of service document, but who has the patience to read the endless stream of fine text in the terms of service document.

So out of our laziness and the fact that the fine print is literally fine (small prints) thus becoming an uninteresting to us to read, we click accept, and effectively form a legal contract with the given social network.

Robert Brown, the CEO of DRS, a Cognosec AB Company said, “It’s interesting how people are so concerned about their privacy, but are essentially giving it away for free. And once you are in the cycle of exchanging your privacy for ‘free’ services, there is no getting out. People need to realize that there is no free lunch.”

Brown says that unless the users is a lawyer or a privacy advocate, they will probably click the ‘Accept’ button without reading the privacy terms and conditions. “A few might give the terms a cursory scroll through, but almost no-one reads the fine print when they register for these sites.”

Although the privacy policies was initially meant to protect user, but these days they are used to bury the scary parts of the T&Cs the end users are not really supposed to see.

These days, these policies, while not giving direct ownership of the user’s data to the social network, effectively give them a broad license to use any of the data, be it posts or pictures.”

Have you ever looked at Facebook’s terms of service?

Facebook, the world leading social network has a terms of service that read:

We collect the content and other information you provide when you see our Services, including when you sign up for an account, create, or share, and message or communicate with others. This can include information in or about the content you provide, such as the location of a photo or the date a file was created. We also collect information about how you use our Services, such as the types of content you view or engage with or the frequency and duration of your activities.”

All social media, down to the last one, have a similar terms of service, where you (the user) gives them the right to use your shared and posted content on their platform. There will also be no liability to the network in the event that happens.

The average person would be dismayed to discover that all these policies are the same in essence, and they are giving the full license to all the information you put into their service. You are effectively giving up ownership and control of your personal data, messages, posts and pictures, to a company that will use that data for their own benefit,” adds Brown.

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