STOP. Read T&Cs. Then Sign Up on Social Media

Let’s start at the very beginning,

A very good place to start;

When you read, you begin with A-B-C,

When you sign up on SM you begin by

Reading T&Cs…”

The start of a new year usually has a buoyant and positive feel, like you have been offered a new opportunity to start things fresh, and make amends.

Experience has taught us that nothing comes for free; and that it’s always good to run a thorough background check on a new group you plan to join. This applies to social media platforms as well. When we sign up on a new social media platform, we are asked for our names, email and other personal information and then directed to the terms and conditions page which we must read and agree before we can proceed. Rarely do we read through all the terms to understand their implications; it’s mostly a cursory scan and tick to complete the signing up process as fast as possible, and voila, we are in!

However, much, much later, if we face issues like privacy breach or cyberbullying, we tend to complain that we didn’t know. But we did, it’s all spelt out in the T&Cs we had hastily agreed to.

Long ago, I had told you the story of a relative, whose son had forged his age to sign up on Facebook. When I questioned the mother, she said she wasn’t aware of the age clause. But again, it’s there, right at the start of the T&Cs!

Most social media platforms have updated their terms in recent times to bring in more openness in their advertising and third-party sharing policies. They have also clearly explained privacy and security terms for users. It’s now up to the users to read, understand and implement the terms to stay safe online and to help maintain digital world hygiene.

Let us explore the T&Cs of some popular social media sites and find out how many of the rules we allow our kids to follow or flout.

Facebook says- “You give us permission to use your name and profile picture and information about actions you have taken on Facebook next to or in connection with ads, offers, and other sponsored content that we display across our products, without any compensation to you.”

Layman’s terms- By agreeing to T&Cs,  you are automatically giving Facebook the right to the content you share in relation to ads etc. without receiving any compensation for it. For e.g., if I like a certain product, they will appear on my friends’ timeline with the message ‘Cybermum India likes it’.

Cybersafety tip: Check ad settings and maximize privacy levels.

Twitter says- “You are responsible for your use of the services and for any content you provide, including compliance with applicable laws, rules, and regulations. You should only provide content that you are comfortable sharing with others.

Layman’s terms- The user is the sole owner of content created by her or him and Twitter will take no responsibility for it.

Cybersafety tip: STOP.THINK.POST. Do not share content that may not be 100% correct or that may be intended to cause harm, hurt, or foment trouble.

Snapchat says- “Through these Terms and our Community Guidelines, we make clear that we don’t want the Services to be put to bad use. But because we don’t review all content, we cannot guarantee that content on the Services will always conform to our Terms or Guidelines.”

Layman’s terms – There may be cases of misuse of the platform by miscreants, cyberbullies and predators.

Cybersafety tip: Follow the community guidelines to know how you can let your child have a positive experience and not be accidentally exposed to inappropriate content. Ensure your teens understand they should share with you if they face disturbing behavior on the platform. It would be helpful if you activate parental controls and use term filters to block out unsavory content

Tik Tok says- “You may not access or use the Services if you are not over 13 or otherwise able to agree to these Terms.”

Layman’s terms- The minimum to sign up on the app is 13 years.

Cybersafety tip: Use this term to guide children on the right age to sign up on social media. Explain the reason behind this age criteria and allow them to sign up when they fulfil it.

Social media platforms are a great way to connect, learn and network as long as all users endeavor to keep it clean and positive. As parents, we need to arm our kids with the right skills and knowledge to help them tackle any issues that may crop up. The first step is to read and understand what the platform has to offer and its security and privacy options. This is something parents and teens can do together as it will be a useful lesson for a lifetime- both in the real and in the digital world.

And most important of all, don’t forget to secure all your devices with comprehensive security tools.
The quicker your family adopts digital safety practices, the safer they will be online!

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