Facing Facebook

Emily Tran, Editor

Are you blindly using social media sites without knowing the terms and conditions?


If you are a Facebook user, you are probably guilty of accepting the Terms and Conditions without reading or knowing the basics of the fine print. If you do the same for other social media websites and apps, it is unfortunate because you might not understand what you allowed them to do. Scary, is it not?

Think about it. When you use the camera to snap a photo of your lunch, the app has to first have permission to access the camera function. Most likely, you have accepted an app’s requirements when downloading the software, and when you allow it to use, for example, the camera, it can use it however it wants. Essentially, you have given the app the ‘key’ into your ‘house’.

Similarly, some apps and websites are very suspicious —  yet popular. One of the most popular websites, Facebook, felt the heat about invading privacy when portions of their Terms and Conditions surfaced. Here is what users ignorantly agreed to when they signed up for an account: Facebook claims that in order to provide an experience that is more interesting to you, they “may use all of the information [they] receive about you.” This includes what you post, what you “like”, and even worse, what they can “infer from your use of Facebook.”

You think, “Problem solved! Why not deactivate my account?” To burst your bubble, if your information is shared on a network, it will stay on it for eternity until the person who shared it changes his or her settings, according to Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

On a different note, those who installed the Facebook Messenger app on their mobile device gave it permission to use your location; remember those nightmares of someone tracking your positions? To be specific, the feature is called “Nearby Friends” which Facebook uses to figure out who is near you, meaning it first needs to know where you are. To top it off, you have also a “Location History.”

You think, “Problem solved! Why not turn off my location and clear my history?” Unfortunately, Facebook claims that it “may still receive your most recent precise location so that you can, for example, post content that’s tagged with your location or find nearby places.” To a degree, your location is still tracked.

This is by no means written to discourage your use of social media, but instead to inform and warn you about Facebook and other social media sites that most likely use the same structure.

Remember that as long you are a member of the site, you are agreeing to their rules. Although no one is expecting you to read the entire Terms and Conditions — which has been proven to take 76 work days to read it in its entirety, according to Carnegie Mellon researchers —, know what you are allowing online sources to do. Is it worth it?