The ethics of terms and conditions.

We all do it, we all sign up to websites and just click through the terms and conditions without reading them. The scandals at Facebook and other online companies with regards to our data have been intensifying over the last month. The problem is that in legal terms we potentially signed away our rights because we didn’t read the terms and conditions. UK TV show the Last Leg printed out the whole T’s and C’s of Facebook a few weeks ago and discovered there was 85,000 words, to put that into context that’s the equivalent of a normal novel of over 300 pages.

As ethical marketers we should be tackling companies who feel the need to have such huge terms and conditions that are deliberately so large no-one could read them all, and even if they did find they are written in legalese and not something most people can understand. We should be talking to companies we work with and seeing if we can get them to create terms and conditions that tell the reader what they need to know about how the company will use their data. If you need an 85,000 word document to say what you are doing then the chances are you are trying to obfuscate something.

I do wonder that many of these companies use large terms and conditions in order to hide the fact that they are well aware of the fact that people would choose not to sign up if they knew what the company’s were doing with their data. We need to be tackling transparency in all business and as marketers if we are involved with businesses we should be advising them of the ethics of their terms  and conditions, and encouraging transparency in all things.

There is a hope company’s listen to their advice from their marketing company’s and we need to be advising them of what large terms look like to those from the outside.  Company’s can use simplified terms as a way of demonstrating their commitment to transparency and that is a strong marketing tool in itself, so we need to work towards that transparency.



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