4 February, 2015

Behind the “I AGREE” button

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Category: Opinion, Safety, Terms
Community Manager
6 pm

I AGREEWritten by Vahan Kirakosyan

Do you know what you “AGREE” with online?

Whether registering for a new social media account (facebook, twitter, vk, ect.) or just trying to get to our bank statements, at some point while online, we all come across to the box where we have to mark to  continue… In other words,  we have to AGREE with the “Terms and Conditions”.  Just be honest to you, have you ever read all the  “Terms and Conditions” box, when it’s more than 2-3 papers? We’re sure your answer is “NO”, and it’s natural because nobody have time for that, instead, we just agree and continue…  but well, we all have to understand, that this can cause a lot of trouble.

ThumbsupAs with any legal contract, both sides, including the user, must agree to the terms and conditions offered with the online service in order to create a legally enforceable “agreement.” Webpages mostly need this agreement, to take  the users under their control with the aim of avoiding cyberbullying and hate speech online and to keep your data safe. Whereas other service providers, alternatively, try to cheat you with that simple trick.  YES! TO CHEAT YOU!   You don’t really notice, but by agreeing in some unknown webpages or programs, they can use the footage you have on the internet, your conversations, picture, etc. and the most important point here, is that you have no power to change it, and you’ve signed (agreed) with the TAC (terms and conditions). For example, after you agree (not knowing what you agree), one might use your posts, ideas and pictures while writing “hate speech” topics.

agreeWho knows what you agree with? Another example is, that a webpage owner can insert a point in the TAC, that by agreeing, you vote against LGBT group of people, or you are against Jews, etc.

Or, imagine, that you agree with the point that the webpage owner copy your posts while writing “true lie hate speech” posts online.  What is true lie hate speech post? It is that someone tells you something true, but leaves out the important information that should be included, not to create a false impression.  So imagine after registering (and agreeing) in the webpage you write a peaceful post like “I simply don’t understand why some people hate Muslims. Nowadays many people say that Muslims are terrorists, but they are not, I know many Muslims and I love them”, and here is the best part of this all. The webpage owner copies your post, but only a part of it and uses it in his blogpost adding some more information. And here is, for example, what it can look like after…

Dear all, our native people hate Muslims. Here is what _name_surname_ says “Some people hate Muslims. I know many Muslims, and they are terrorists”

ThinkAnd, BOOM! Everyone is to know that you’ve posted a hate speech! The webpage owner used your words, but in another order, because you’ve agreed that he/she could do it.  Just notice where we started and to what conclusion we came, as without reading, you’ve agreed with the terms and conditions of the webpage, not noticing that one of the points is that a webpage owner can use your post completely, or the part of it where and when he wants.  This was only just an example, of what kind of hate “I Agree” can cause online. In this case, we’d ask you to be creative and think of the other ways, you can be cheated…

However, we would love you to know some points, that are essential for the webpages in the “Terms and Conditions” section.  A clearly presented online agreement represents the “best practice” mechanism for creating a contractual relationship between an online service and a user. Such a mechanism should:

  1. Conspicuously present the TAC to the user prior to any payment (or other commitment by the user) or installation of software (or other changes to a user’s machine or browser, like cookies, plug-ins, etc.);
  2. Allow the user to easily read and navigate all of the terms (i.e. be in a normal, readable typeface with no scroll box);
  3. Provide an opportunity to print, and/or save a copy of the terms;
  4. Offer the user the option to decline as prominently and by the same method as the option to agree;
  5. Ensure the TAC is easy to locate online after the user agrees.

agree buttonOf course, even if a particular points are held to constitute a valid contract, this does not mean every individual term within it will be found legally acceptable. What you need, is to look through the TAC, and if possible, only use webpages that are well-known.

Help us make the internet better place by being careful! 


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