They have declared that they are too complex for users to understand
There is no doubt about the fact that the social media has become a pivotal part of our lives and most of our behavior is certainly guided by it. The extensive use (and often abuse) of such platforms has often raised fingers on the privacy of the individuals involved and this time the questions have been put forward by a U.K. parliamentary committee which has raised concern over the terms and conditions of such services.
They have declared these terms and conditions to be very complex in nature and therefore it is not easy for the users to understand. But the basic question that has perhaps even popped up in your head is that how many times have we actually read the terms and conditions of the services and sites we join? Not many of course. But that doesn’t mean that the innocence of such ignorant users can be manipulated. According to the U.K. parliamentary committee, these terms and conditions have become highly unsuitable particularly after episodes such as Facebook’s emotion-manipulation study, in which Facebook deliberately made some of its users sad as an experiment.
The Science and Technology Committee issued a report on Friday which was concerned with these matters. The report, which was addressed to the British government and data protection regulator, suggested that such terms should be developed which would help users understand how their data is being used. This is something we all will benefit from and it seems fair that that this issue has finally gotten some firm political push. Some minor initiatives have already started showing up helping people understand what the services they use do with their data, such as Terms Of Service, Didn’t Read. However, their effects haven’t been as far outreaching and they aren’t so widely known as yet.
Following this the committee has been asking the government to work in collaboration with business and academia in order to ensure that that apps only request the user data that they need to provide the advertised service and it should be made clear to the users why they need the permissions they request.
A reference to the Facebook emotion-manipulation study was made in a statement by committee chair Andrew Miller MP and this was presented as an example to show why exactly consumer consent is important. In a surprisingly ironically-phrased official statement, one of the firsts coming from a British politician, Miller said “Socially responsible companies wouldn’t want to bamboozle their users, of course, so we are sure most social media developers will be happy to sign up to the new guidelines on clear communication and informed consent that we are asking the Government to draw up.”
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