Terms of Service – Do You Know What You’ve Agreed To?


How Much Information Are You Giving Away?

My last blog post focused on Facebook’s patent that would allow the social media platform to use cameras and webcams to spy on its users.

For the full story click here .

Some of you might have been surprised that they could be so intrusive and you might have wondered what gives them the right to do something like spy on its users.  You might also be surprised to learn about some of the other things that Facebook is already allowed to do with the information that its users are sharing.  Anyone using the service has agreed to it.  It’s all in the terms of service.

If you didn’t read Facebook’s terms of service when you signed up or when they were last updated, they can be found here .


The Friend That Never Pays You Back

Did you “like” a video, post, or picture lately?  Facebook got paid for that.  If you “like” anything that was advertised by a business, Facebook can allow that business to use your pictures, name, information and information in exchange for money.  That’s money that you never get to see.

This Huffington Post article has more information here, and they also highlight the specific parts of the applicable terms of service.

You might not have a problem with sharing your feelings about your favourite brands online, but you should have a problem with Facebook getting all of the profit.  Think about how much money companies pay for research and testing. Think about how much we are paying for school.  Information is valuable.


Don’t Look Now, You’re Being Followed

In April 2014 Facebook started providing location services.  As long as your location settings are enabled within the application, you can use the tracking feature to find nearby friends.  When Facebook gets this information, they of course use it to sell you more advertising.  Now that all seems perfectly innocent when you discover that predators can exploit this feature and use it for tracking and stalking.  A computer science student at Harvard University created a Chrome extension that can collect data from Facebook messenger and plot your last location on a map.  Your location information can be seen if you sent someone a message from a Café downtown, or if you sent someone a message from your own home before you went to sleep.

To read more about tracking and to find out how to disable your location on the Facebook application click here .


Read the Fine Print

The reality is that most people do not read the terms and conditions for everything that they sign up for.  They are very long winded and it seems like most of the terms are just basic liability clauses that are necessary for the company to protect themselves.  But if a big business knows that they need to protect themselves online, shouldn’t we be learning a lesson from that?  Let’s try to use our critical thinking and not just blindly agree to terms that we don’t understand so that we can continue to be used for profit.

Facebook: Terms of Service – Do You Know What You’ve Agreed To? http://bit.ly/2saK5Tg

Twitter: Do You Know What You’ve Agreed To? http://bit.ly/2saK5Tg


5 thoughts on “Terms of Service – Do You Know What You’ve Agreed To?

  1. Yikes! Yeah, I’m definitely a ‘scroll-and-check’ person when I see the “terms of service” agreements come up, but your post is making me re-think that. Mind you, I’d likely still agree in order to use the service/platform, such as Facebook, but as you noted, there are ways you can disable some of these specific applications. So thanks for that!

    • Thanks agmarsh. I understand that most people will just accept the terms and keep using the service, but I’m glad that you are aware of a few ways to use the service safely.

  2. Hi Carl,

    Your blog is really useful!

    Thank you for sharing the Huffington Post article. I did actually read it to skip reading the Facebook Privacy Policies which apparently take up to 76 work days to go through the whole thing!

    I never knew that platforms like Facebook got paid for our “likes/shares”, or they allowed the businesses to use our personal information/posts/pictures; I thought they just made money from the advertisements. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why I get junk emails sometimes. Although I personally don’t mind if the platforms make money out of my activities (shares or likes), I am not happy about companies having access to my personal information.

    I think getting more customized advertisements are somehow interesting. I prefer to see and receive ads that match my interests. However, knowing that hackers or the stalkers can detect my location makes me really uncomfortable since my cell phone Location Service is usually “on” and I mainly use Google Maps when I bike or walk. I used to think that it was only the government who could keep track of our activities. I feel there is no more private life!


    • Thanks for your comments. I think that was the worst part for me too, knowing that companies could use my information.
      Also, I don’t want hackers to be able to find out where I live either. Just because we don’t want to get lost on our bikes doesn’t mean that we want to be tracked!

  3. Hi Carl,
    I am learning so much from you guys, your blog answers my question. Is it really important to read the “terms of service”? Since i am also one of those who don’t pay attention to read the long information. But now, i agreed that we do need to read and understand before signing up any platforms.

    Besides, i never knew that facebook gained a lot of money because of our click on “likes/shares” and the worst is our posted pictures/information is being used by the businesses for profit. I wonder what would be the future of Facebook users?

    Thank you for this very helpful information that will benefits other users of Facebook

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