Terms of service: 99% of users simply do not understand them


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    Probably, among Habr's readers there are those who are thoroughly acquainted with the terms of service of various services and applications. Most simply tick where needed and start work. Someone may call it wrong, but as it turned out, with all the desire to deal with the conditions of service, 99% of users cannot cope with this task.

    Such a conclusion was made by the authors of an interesting study, two law professors who analyzed the Terms of service 500 popular sites in the US, including Google and Facebook. The complexity of the user agreement is extremely high and can be compared with the complexity of a very specific article in an academic publication.

    “Many users want to understand what is being offered to them. But no one regulates the company in how they make up their Terms of service. In most cases, such a document is written so difficult that few people are able to understand it, ”says the findings of a scientific paper published in the Social Science Research Network.

    No matter what kind of service we use, the result is about the same - it’s absolutely impossible to figure out the conditions if you are an ordinary person. But in the ToS hides a large number of important nuances, including the proclamation of intellectual property, certain restrictions, conditions for the completion of the work.

    In principle, if you just put a tick in the "agree" field in terms of using the service, you can get into a rather unpleasant situation. An example is a case from 2012, when a Facebook user was forbidden to work with the service for a number of reasons.

    The proceedings in that case lasted for a rather long time, until the judge declared that “the inability to read the contract before accepting its terms does not release the party from its obligations under the contract”.

    All this is true, only the complexity of the wording in this contract has not been regulated or even analyzed by anyone. Until now, when law professors from various universities in the UK and Israel have got down to business.

    If we estimate the complexity of texts from 1 to 100, then the majority of ToS formulations score more than 60 points. As already mentioned, an ordinary user simply cannot understand most of the texts published as conditions of use. Moreover, many formulations cannot be taken literally, since legal formulations can be extremely vague and mean not what they seem.

    “Many of us believe that if something is stated in the contract, then it is what it seems. In fact, this is not the case, ”the conclusion says.

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