|Screen Shot taken 12 February 2014|
Instagram has taken into consideration the complexity of their terms of service, and they have gone back and added an additional set of terms of service agreements, as of January 2013, that are more appropriate for the majority of their users. Bits reports, the simpler terms of service are ideas like, “you may not post violent, nude, partially nude, discriminatory, unlawful, infringing, hateful, pornographic or sexually suggestive photos or other content via the Service," and “you are responsible for keeping your password secret and secure.” The article goes on to say, the terms also include clauses like “Instagram can share information about its users with Facebook, its parent company, as well as outside affiliates and advertisers.” This is an essential piece to add because there was confusion, that USA Today reported, with users thinking that Instagram was “going to sell their photos to other companies without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing.” The confusion stems from users not reading the terms of service carefully, and Instagram hopes to eliminate this problem by adding the easy to read terms of service.
Instagram with it’s 175 million users, Facebook is trying to sort out a similar issue with their terms of service. Facebook’s confusion came from information that was hiding in their terms of service. It came out, as the New York Times reports, the company reversed changes to its contract with users that had appeared to give it perpetual ownership of their contributions to the service. Unlike Instagram, Facebook did include this important piece of information, but people not taking the time to read the terms of service resulted in a misunderstanding between the company and its users. Facebook was scrambling around trying to figuring out how to fix the issue. One of the solutions was announced by the company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, that they have invited users to contribute to the “Bill of Rights” and responsibilities of using Facebook. Their overall goal is to get the information out in the open so every user knows exactly what is happening with posted information. The New York Times reports that Facebook’s chief privacy officer made clear that the company “became very concerned and wanted to communicate very clearly to everyone our intentions by rolling back to the old terms of service.” The issue of Facebook's terms of service took place in 2009, but as of November 2013 The New York Times reports that "official changes to its privacy policies that make the terms of using Facebook more clear than ever." Facebook has made it clear to it's users that they are permitted to use any posting and images for advertising. If users would have been aware of Facebook’s terms of service in the first place, then the issue of rules and regulations being hidden would have been avoided completely.
Facebook and Instagram are two examples of companies that have gone back and revised their terms of service agreements because issue of unclarity for their users. As I have stated before, if the terms of service were stated in simple language in the first place, clarity between the company and it’s users would have been there in the first place. A solution to solve the problem of unclear agreements would be for national legislative to be passed so it would be a law for the terms of service to be written in simple language for everyone to understand.
Working on the blog project was an eye opening experience because I was doing research on a topic that is so important, and one that I actually knew little about. Before researching, and proving the point that there needs to be national legislation to demand for simpler worded terms of service that every age of users are able to understand, I did not truly understand why this issue was important, when signing up for new programs or services I would freely check the box "yes" saying I agree, but after researching indepth of what some company's terms of service ask, I will not be checking that box as freely. This was the first time a piece of my writing had gone live so people, who I don't know, were able to read my writing. I enjoyed having people commenting because they gave me constructive criticism, which forced me to go father with research. I like the fact that my blog may have taught people and opened their eyes to what's actually written in the pages and pages of terms of service agreements. I feel like going live with blog helped and taught other people as well as myself. This experience has inspired me to keep on blogging.