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Facebook won’t 'like' this…

Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites will soon have to tell their users exactly how their photos and information are being used.

A Commons Service and Technology Select Committee report condemns the current terms and conditions as horribly long and complex, and akin to ‘engaging with Shakespeare’ (though much less fun).

The report goes on to suggest that nobody should be expected to understand the terms and conditions, and that the existing rules were designed to protect organisations from legal action, rather than make anything clear for a general user.

The Chairman of the Committee, Andrew Miller MP, mentioned the fact that Facebook had manipulated its users by varying the stories that appeared in their newsfeeds.

He said this ‘highlighted serious concerns about the extent to which ticking the 'terms and conditions' box can be said to constitute informed consent when it comes to the varied ways data is now being used by many websites and apps’.

This is clearly an important and potentially complex issue. If users of Facebook and Twitter are unsure how their photos and personal details are being used, they need to be told, clearly and simply. If their information is being passed on to marketing teams, or their images are being used for commercial purposes, this needs to be stated.

In any case, anyone who has seen the terms and conditions in question would have to agree that they’re awful. We certainly welcome the report’s findings and we’ll keep an eye on anything questionable creeping back in once the guidelines are brought in.

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