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Instagram – Here’s What Your Teenager Is Signing Up To..

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Image Credit; Instagram

Lets face it – does anyone, let alone children and young people, ever read Terms of Service or Privacy policies on social media platforms? Every platform nowadays makes people agree to to sign up to use their services. Most if not all of these agreements are drafted up by legal teams who work for these giants in social networking and most, deliberately or not, are not written in a simplified way most of us can understand.

The majority of us, children and indeed adults, have no idea what privacy rights we have when we sign up for accounts on social media platforms. Or how the information or content we post can be used. This results in most of us giving away way too much personal information – without any understanding about what happens to it or who will get access to it.

I’ve just copied and pasted Instagram’s terms and service into a word document. Bearing in mind it’s one of the most popular platforms for teenagers. It spans 9 pages, totalling 5,116 words. Now that’s some bedside reading.

Instagram Terms of Services

But it’s not just an Instagram thing. Snapchat have just updated theirs too. And this happens on most social networking sites regularly.

According to an article in the Washington Post, a UK lawyer has just re-written Instagram’s terms of service and guess what? She’s condensed it to one page – so it’s easier for people to understand, particularly children. Jenny Afia, a privacy lawyer and partner at Schillings law firm in London is a member of the ‘Growing Up Digital’ Task Force convened by the Children’s Commissioner for England with this very relevant task of rewriting T’s and C’s for better understanding of what you’re signing up to on social networks.

According to the article she said ‘ It took her several hours’ which were ‘quite taxing and definitely time-consuming’.

Afia re-wrote Instagram’s terms of service so that teenagers could understand it. One of the key messages is ‘Don’t use anybody else’s account without their permission or try to find out their login details’ . According to the article she further condensed other complex paragraphs to make them easier to understand. These included:

  • ‘Don’t bully anyone or post anything horrible about people’
  • ‘Officially you own any original pictures and videos you post, but we are allowed to use them, and we can let others use them as well, anywhere around the world. Other people might pay us to use them and we will not pay you for that’
  • ‘Although you are responsible for the information you put on Instagram, we may keep, use and share your personal information with companies connected with Instagram. This information includes your name, email address, school, where you live, pictures, phone number, your likes and dislikes, where you go, who your friends are, how often you use Instagram, and any other personal information we find such as your birthday or who you are chatting with, including in private messages (DMs)’.

Instagram has had massive growth amongst children and young people. It now has over 600 million users and according to a report by the Children’s Commissioner,‘more than half of 12- to 15-year-olds in the United Kingdom — and nearly half of 8 to 11-year-olds who are active on social media have an account on Instagram, despite the company dictating in its terms that users have to be at least 13’.

Shocker? Not really. Be aware. This is now commonplace amongst most if not all social networks today. Snapchat has also updated their Terms of Service again 2 days ago so perhaps time to give it a read.

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Posted By Wayne Denner

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Wayne Denner shares his knowledge & expertise on leading tech industry blog.

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