When you download an app for work or personal purposes, do you ever read the terms and conditions? We won’t hold it against you if you don’t. A 2017 study by Deloitte found that over 90% of mobile phone users accept legal terms and conditions without reading them. This is why you should.
You may be giving away your personal information
If digital privacy is important to you, then it may make you uncomfortable to learn that many apps have more freedom to use your personal information than you realise. For example, WhatsApp’s terms and conditions state that: “As part of the Facebook Companies, WhatsApp receives information from, and shares information with, the Facebook Companies. We use the information we receive from them to help operate, provide, and improve our Services.”
WhatsApp is allowed to share information such as your phone number, device model, browsing habits, and full list of phone contacts with other companies in the Facebook group. So, while you think your information is only being shared with WhatsApp, it may actually be made available to seven other companies.
You may be granting broad rights to use your content
Some apps have a scary amount of power to use and share the content you upload. When you upload content such as photographs, videos, artwork, or writing, you should be aware that you may be granting very broad rights to use this content. In their terms and conditions, Facebook and Instagram both state that when you share content, you are granting the app “a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly display and create derivative works of your content.” This content can also be shared with third parties such as advertisers and other companies within the Facebook group.
Some apps can change their terms and conditions without warning
We’re not sure whether this is out of laziness or deceptiveness, but many apps, including some of the world’s most popular ones (such as WhatsApp, Skype, YouTube, and apps from Apple), state that they can change their terms and conditions at any time without informing you. The terms and conditions you read through today could be completely different the next day, and the changes could be something you’re unwilling to accept. The responsibility rests with you to continually check the terms and conditions and note any changes.
It’s important to know what is illegal
If you don’t read the terms of service, then you might not be aware of what is legal and illegal regarding the use of the app. If you carry out activities such as sharing malicious or graphic content, promoting violence or hate speech, or publishing misleading statements, then the app or other app users may well have the right to take legal action against you. Before posting or sharing content, ensure that everything is within the legal boundaries outlined in the terms and conditions.
From the above, we hope that you’ve become more aware of the importance of reading terms and conditions. We know that it’s a time-consuming and often boring task, but there are often terms and conditions that will affect you directly.
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