Terms of Service? What Does that even Mean?

Unfortunately ethical behavior doesn’t come naturally for everyone. Companies are forced to create terms and conditions filled with outlandish “rules” to protect themselves and their users. We’ve all had to scroll to the bottom of a page and check the “yes I agree to the terms and conditions” box before, but have you honestly ever taken the time to read these “rules?”

Look familiar?

Look familiar?

If you take a few moments to read the terms of service for some of the sites you frequent you would be surprised to see many of the rules deal with hate speech and how social media networks cannot be responsible for user content. This concept upset many people, especially on Twitter. How can such an influential network not interfere with posts of this nature? In my opinion this is a hard spot to be in for all parties.

We live in the 21st century where people utilize social networks to practice their freedom of speech. Social media outlets like Twitter cannot limit their users’ “certain unalienable rights” just because it offends someone. However, I do see users justification for such outrage, especially if your creed, color, gender or sexual preference are hot topics of hate speech on these networks. I believe Twitter is doing the right thing.

Did you know about this outrage surrounding Twitter’s terms of service? I know I didn’t until this week’s lecture for my Social Media Ethics course. So how can we make these rules more evident and applicable to all who use these networks?

I believe it is important to look at what type of content resonates with people on these networks. Seeming as Facebook and Twitter were discussed at great length in this week’s lecture these two network’s terms and conditions will be my primary focus.

Infographics are great ways to share messages on social networks.

Infographics are great ways to share messages on social networks.

Let’s start with Facebook. Images are very popular and are the most type of shared content on the network. I would love to see an infographic explaining these rules. Infographics are able to provide people with information in more entertaining ways. For instance, last semester I shared an infographic about how social media and bacon were related. This piece of content has been one of my most shared pieces of content.

With a limit of 140 characters spreading Twitter’s terms of service message is a little more challenging. I believe creating a hashtag like #TwitterRules would be a great way to create and track engagement regarding the conditions of the network. We’ve all seen promoted tweets on our newsfeeds…I would like to see Twitter feature their terms and conditions via promoted tweets every now and then.

With millions (or in Facebook’s case billions) of users worldwide it is impossible to monitor all of the content every user publishes. I believe promoting the terms and conditions associated with these social network could help create more ethical behavior on the outlets.

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