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Users will sacrifice their first born for social networking

by on14 July 2016

Read the terms and conditions a bit more carefully

While few people ever read terms and conditions or privacy policies, it seems a new study has shown that they are ignoring clauses which require them to give up their first born.

More than 543 university students involved in the study didn't bother to read the terms of service before signing up for a fake social networking site called "NameDrop."

The terms of service required them to give up their first born, and if they don't yet have one, they get until 2050 to spawn a brat to fulfil the contract. The privacy policy specifically said that their data would be given to the NSA and future employers.

However, what is even stranger is that the few participants who read those clauses, they signed up for the service anyway.

The study, called the "The biggest lie on the Internet” is based around the concept that when people agree to terms and conditions, they are actually lying.

Penned by Jonathan Obar, who teaches communication technology at York University, and Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch, a University of Connecticut communications assistant professor.

The study found that 74 per cent skipped privacy policy (PP), selecting ‘quick join.’ For readers, average PP reading time was 73 seconds, and average Terms of Service (TS) reading time was 51 seconds.

Based on average adult reading speed (250-280 words per minute), PP should have taken 30 minutes to read, TOS 16 minutes. A regression analysis revealed information overload as a significant negative predictor of reading TOS upon signup, when TOS changes, and when PP changes.

Participants view policies as nuisance, ignoring them to pursue the ends of digital production, without being inhibited by the means. Implications were revealed as 98 per cent missed NameDrop TOS about data sharing with the NSA and employers, and about providing a first-born child as payment for SNS (social network service) access.

The study said that students were deceived and told that the university was working with NameDrop and that they would be "contributing to a pre-launch evaluation," and they needed to sign up for the site to perform their analysis.

The terms of service policies were "modified versions of LinkedIn's to ensure comparable length." The privacy policy was 7,977 words and the terms of service, 4,316. The so-called "gotcha clauses" were added to assess "ignoring behaviour."

In all, 399 of the 543 students skipped reading the terms altogether and clicked the "click-join" option. The bulk of those who did read them spent about a minute, the study found.

Last modified on 14 July 2016
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