Summarizing terms of services of social networks
Back in August of this year, we profiled a site that reads and summarizes terms of services that you undoubtedly don’t have time to read yourself. That service is ToS;DR, and it goes beyond profiling terms of services, it also simplifies it for you, so you can be confident that you’re protected and informed before you agree to something you haven’t read and analyzed yourself. But let’s take it one step further by comparing ToS;DR’s analyses of Facebook and Twitter.
Twitter: pros and cons
Pros – Twitter will inform you when the government requests your information, unless
they’ve been prohibited to do so. It’s very open and transparent when it comes to any law enforcement requests, ultimately doing what they can to protect and inform you as much as possible. Cookies are not required to use Twitter, and you can always search through older terms of service that are no longer in effect, so you can see exactly what has changed and what has remained the same.
Cons – Twitter holds the rights to license and sublicense your tweets and content without additional permission from you. Your content is also shared freely with third parties and Twitter’s partners. While Twitter has to give notice when changes are made to the established terms of service, they only have to do it at least a few hours before and they can simply tweet the change on their own account, which means you may not even see it. When you close your account, Twitter doesn’t completely get rid of all your tweets until thirty days after.
Facebook: pros and cons
Pros – Facebook gives you security tips that you can implement so you can protect your
account and your private information. When Facebook makes changes to the terms of service, they will ask for feedback from active Facebook users for the few days before the change. Unless a minimum of 30% of the polled users vote, changes won’t be made. Facebook is straightforward when it comes to the rules they follow when law enforcement requests access to your information.
Cons – Facebook reserves ample rights over your content, including the right to license
and sublicense to third parties and to keep your content no matter if you deleted your account or how long ago it was deleted. They have been known to share users’ private information with Pandora, Bing, and Yelp, to name a few. If government agencies request your information, Facebook is not obligated to inform you. Also, you must use your legal name when creating an account. No pen names or pseudonyms allowed. If a fake name is discovered, it will be deleted. This makes your personal information vulnerable.
You may be a little surprised
After reading the pros and cons above, you may be a little surprised of the details of Twitter’s and Facebook’s terms of service. Protect yourself by staying informed and involved. If there is anything in a terms of service that you feel is suspicious, don’t agree to it. It’s not worth the risk. If you’re unsure if you should be concerned with a specific listed item, you can always check back with ToS;DR for more detailed and simplified information.