Life > Children’s Commissioner for England releases simpler social media terms and conditions

Posted on October 18, 2017

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Jonathan Bugembe researches a new initiative that aims to 'give more power to youths in order to make an informed decision'
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, has just launched a child-friendly guide and teacher resource to help children understand what they are signing up to when they use Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and WhatsApp. This guide includes simplifying the language used in the terms and conditions to make it easier to understand.

Because of this, more power is put in the hands of young people, as they are able to make an informed decision. Some of these new and improved terms and conditions include:

  • Setting out how Snapchat can publically display or sell any content a young person puts on Live or Local Snapchat.
  • How Instagram can read a user’s Direct Messages.

According to a recent study done by the Commissioner, 2.46 billion people use social media worldwide, which shows just how impactful it is in our lives. But how many of us pay attention to the terms and conditions attached to social media? And what is the harm in skipping over them?

According to the Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, today’s youth in the UK are unaware of the personal and private information they are giving away. This is because the terms and conditions set up by large social media companies are too complex. An example of this is Instagram’s T&Cs which have 17 pages and 5,000 words.

Jenny Afia, a leading media and privacy lawyer, believes that “the protection of the youngest and most vulnerable in our society must come first as they are a third of Internet users today.”

So if younger generations can’t understand the complex terms and conditions, how can they give informed consent to giving away their personal data?
A 14-year-old that the Children’s Commissioner’s office spoke to, said: “YouTube say they will remove anything that is illegal but at the same time, they say if there is illegal stuff on there then it isn’t their fault – so whose responsibility is it?”

What I think
I believe this is a good step towards securing the safety of today’s youth. But will it be effective? Will children actually use these new terms and conditions to their advantage? What do you think? Please comment below.

Jonathan Bugembe
Jonathan is an A-Level student at Hornsey Sixth Form, studying sociology, film studies and English literature. He enjoys writing about topics he is interested in and aims to pursue a career within digital media.

Exposure is an award-winning youth communications charity giving young people in north London a voice. Please support us to continue our work. Thank you.



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One Response to Children’s Commissioner for England releases simpler social media terms and conditions

  1. Shakira October 20, 2017 at 10:04 am #

    Thanks for writing its – its a really important issue that even us young people who use social media the most need to understand. Most disconcerting I think is that social media site like Snapchat or Facebook say they’re ‘selling your information’ – many if not all social media sites do this, to send it to advertising companies or large think-tanks that are trying to sell something and need to know their market.

    They say they do it only to serve you ‘more relevant advertising’ – but they utimately want you to click on the adverts so that the company they’re promoting (and by extension they) get money.

    Children might not be aware they’re buying something with actual money…

    Also if the terms and conditions are shortened then they can actualy serve the purpose they’re intended for – so that people can read them and understand what they’re getting into. For example, Twitter changed its terms and conditions recently.

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