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InfoShot: Happy Reading With Terms & Conditions

Facebook has come under fire this week after it was found to be experimenting with the news feeds of nearly 700,000 people in order to make people feel more positive or negative through a process of "emotional contagion".

Although ethically questionable and perhaps not falling under the rules of scientific ethics, the research “was consistent with Facebook’s Data Use Policy, to which all users agree prior to creating an account on Facebook, constituting informed consent for this research.” Under the social network’s Terms, Facebook may use the information it collects about you data for “data analysis, testing, [and] research.” Although these changes weren’t made until after the study was conducted, they raise the question - just how mammoth are Facebook’s Terms & Conditions?

People have conducted studies on the Terms and Conditions of various websites in the past. One study found the median length of a privacy policy from the top 75 websites turned out to be 2,514 words. With a standard reading rate of about about 250 words a minute, each one would take a person ten minutes to read. Ten minutes. Think about how many websites you visit, and add ten minutes to every visit reading a two and a half thousand word article full of legal jargon that 93% of people don’t read. But which websites have the most text-heavy terms?

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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