Terms and Conditions: A Lecture Response on Mumbo Jumbo

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The terms and conditions are probably the most important, unread document that we deal with on a daily basis.  When we update our iTunes, we agree to the legal terms and conditions without giving it a thought.  When we log in to social media, we agree to the terms and conditions without really even knowing what they are.  In some cases, this can lead to problems because we eventually find out “the hard way” what we have agreed to (see Kyle dealing with an extreme case of this on South Park).  Other times, agreeing is just the quickest way to get where we want to go and usually doesn’t result in any problems.  Usually……..

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The lecture for this week asked us to admit if we read the Terms and Conditions and admittedly, I do not.  Further, as a follow up reading assignment for this course, we are supposed to read the Terms and Conditions for both Facebook and Twitter and I’m not sure I’m going to make it.  As the lecture pointed out, the Terms and Conditions for any media/technology site can be overwhelming and have the appearance of long, legal documents.  I didn’t go to law school! Can’t I just look at funny pictures of cats in peace without worrying that I am breaking the law?!?

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Unfortunately, the answer to that is “No, you cannot.”  As Justin’s (@newsleader) lecture for this week pointed out, many facets and rules have had to be included in these documents and it leads me to wonder: Which came first: the lengthy documents or the silly legal dispute? I suspect that terms the lecture pointed out regarding Facebook such as “no bullying” or discouraging posting misleading information came because someone sued someone else for something that was on Facebook.  Which brings me to Twitter…

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I feel Twitter actually does a pretty good job of making terms that basically say they will not be held responsible for content that users place on their service.  This seems to be the safer, more “free” way and if I were drafting Terms and Conditions for a social network that I was creating, I suspect they would say something similar.  If Stan Collymore does not want to see bullying on Twitter, he should probably stay off Twitter.  If I don’t want my children to be bullied on Facebook, then I should probably keep them off Facebook; just like I should turn off the TV if there is something I do not want them to see.  

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