Survey: Many Users Never Read Social Networking Terms of Service Agreements

Users of social networks understand that agreeing to the terms of service is a requirement for using the platforms, but that doesn't mean they like it.

As reported by SocialTimes last year, many users are signing user agreements without reading them. As a result, they are giving away the rights to the reproduction of their content often without even realizing. A recent survey from Scoopshot, a photo and video service that connects content creators with advertisers, shows that the situation has not improved.

More than 30 percent of the 1,270 survey respondents said they never read the ToS when signing up to a social network. 49.53 percent only read the ToS ‘sometimes,’ and only 17.56 percent of people ‘always’ read the ToS.

The top concern of users who do read the terms of services is how a companies will use their content after they have uploaded it. 26.69 percent read the terms ‘because you always should,’ and 24.31 percent read the terms because they are concerned with protecting their personal information.

Of the users who don’t read the ToS before agreeing, 53.10 percent say there is no point because you need to ‘agree’ to sign up, even if you disagree with the content of the terms. 36.72 percent say it takes too long to read the terms, which is a great argument for simpler terms documents. The rest find the language complicated, they don’t care, or they can’t find the ToS.

Scoopshot founder and CEO Petri Rahja said in a statement:

Social media users instinctively know that the networks gain some control over their content, but they are discouraged from investigating or confronting this issue. Unfortunately, social networks tend to bury digital rights information within fine print and legalese, which creates misunderstandings and makes the discussion inaccessible. This prevents social networks from building trust with their user base.

Nearly 70 percent of respondents were worried about how social networks would use their content after it was uploaded, and 14.79 percent said they knew their digital rights had been violated by a social network.

When users were asked to rank social sites by how much those sites protected their digital rights, Foap was most trusted; Facebook was least trusted.

Users are becoming much more savvy about their content, but there is still confusion and lack of information about the digital rights users have over their content. Sites are beginning to put control of content back into the hands of users, and hopefully this trend will lead to greater education about digital rights.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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