This article titled “Telling Facebook you’ve changed your phone number – the weird T&Cs you’ve unwittingly signed up to” was written by Martin Belam, for theguardian.com on Thursday 5th January 2017 16.23 UTC
The Children’s commissioner has warned that children as young as eight are signing up to social media terms and conditions without reading or understanding the agreements they are entering.
Let’s be honest, that probably goes for a lot of adults too – and most of these lengthy legal documents that we never bother to read include some rather unexpected clauses. Here are some of the more wide-reaching and most bizarre.
Facebook: you need to say within 48 hours if you change your phone number
By using or accessing Facebook you agree to its statement of rights and responsibilities, which includes the provision that if you change your phone number, you promise to update it on Facebook within 48 hours.
Facebook also obtains the permission to use any of your public posts, photographs or videos for anything, anywhere in the world, without paying you – and to sell them to others to do the same.
You also agree to your name, your picture, and your content appearing in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related content.
You must be 13 to use the service, and you also must agree not to publish any false personal information, or create more than one account.
Facebook specifically states that convicted sex offenders cannot use the service, and if you want to pursue a claim against Facebook, you have agreed to do it in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, or a state court located in San Mateo County.
Snapchat: it wants the rights to your voice for ever and ever and ever
You accept Snapchat’s terms by using the service. If you create or appear in live content, that gives Snapchat and its business partners the “unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual right and licence to use your name, likeness and voice”. You give it permission to do this forever – including in forms of media that haven’t been invented yet.
In theory, Snapchat is a great choice for sexting because the content is very personal and ephemeral. However, it is worth noting that when you use it, you have given Snapchat the right to “host, store, use, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish and distribute” your content for the purposes of “operating, developing, providing, promoting and improving” the service. Snapchat also reserves the right to access, review, screen and delete your content at any time.
You are not allowed to create more than one Snapchat account, and if you change your phone number, you have promised to inform Snapchat within 72 hours.
Terrorists need not apply, however. You are specifically forbidden from using Snapchat if you appear on the US Treasury Department’s list of Specially Designated Nationals – the 1,000-page US government register of people and businesses facing economic sanctions for terrorism or drugs offences.
Have a dispute with Snapchat over something? Then you agreed that it must be resolved by the American Arbitration Association, unless you sent Snapchat written notice that you wanted to opt out of this within 30 days of first joining the service.
Instagram: it isn’t responsible if it misplaces your private stuff
It also explicitly states that you can be suspended from the service or have your username taken from you “for any reason”.
Instagram also reserves the right to not always disclose that sponsored content is sponsored.
It stipulates that none of your information or messages held on its system are deemed to be confidential, and Instagram is not liable if that information becomes public: “None of your Content will be subject to any obligation of confidence on the part of Instagram, and Instagram will not be liable for any use or disclosure of any Content you provide.”
WhatsApp: it promises it can’t read your encrypted messages
WhatsApp is much stronger on the privacy of your communications than Instagram. It explicitly states in its terms that “We’ve built privacy, end-to-end encryption, and other security features into WhatsApp. We don’t store your messages once they’ve been delivered. When they are end-to-end encrypted, we and third parties can’t read them.”
However, it also states: “Nothing in our Terms will prevent us from complying with the law.” This gives it an out should legal frameworks about encryption around the world change.
The company, owned by Facebook, has also caused controversy by sharing data with the social network for use in ad targeting.
Twitter: nasty tweets are not endorsed
Twitter takes the “Retweets are not endorsements” trope of many official bios to the next level, with its terms clarifying that Twitter does not “endorse, support, represent or guarantee the completeness, truthfulness, accuracy, or reliability of any Content or communications.” Probably just as well, given the level of nastiness that can take place on the platform.
As weird legal jargon goes these two sentences from Twitter are probably among the most oddly uninformative ever written into a contract: “Twitter has an evolving set of rules for how ecosystem partners can interact with your Content on the Services. These rules exist to enable an open ecosystem with your rights in mind.”
There appears, though, to be no specific clause against heads of state causing diplomatic incidents with their tweets.
YouTube: it suggest you print a copy of its terms and keep it for your records
Clause 2.4 of YouTube’s terms of service literally suggests “You should print off or save a local copy of the Terms for your records.”
It also states that you should only use the service if you agree to the terms, and you should not use the service if “you are not of legal age to form a binding contract with YouTube” – which has interesting implications for the amount of Minecraft videos on the service aimed at kids.
If you want to terminate the legal agreement you have made with YouTube by watching a video, you have to send it in writing. You’ll be able to find the postal address at the top of the terms and conditions that you printed off – assuming you can still remember how to do something as old-fashioned as posting a letter to a company.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010