Blah-blah-blah-blah I accept. I mean, who really reads those Terms of Service anyway? I know, I try to, but they’re so very long and if you decide they’re being unreasonable, what choice do you have? OK, so you can choose not to use the service, but that usually feels like shooting yourself in the foot when those disclaimers are rarely used for evil and usually just to indemnify themselves against frivolous lawsuits.
But it would be nice to know which particular demon we were offering up our firstborn children to, so Terms of Service; Didn’t Read has very helpfully put together a rough guide to all those nasty, unreasonable clauses we agree to every day without bothering to read properly.
Sites are rated from A (very good) to E (very bad), with thumbs-up or thumbs-down awarded to whether your information is sold for advertising purposes, whether you are able to delete your account, and whether the site will notify you about impending changes to its service. There are also fat marks down if it doesn’t advise you about law enforcement requests, or delete your content from its servers after you try to remove it.
For example, here’s Facebook (where the minus sign is a thumbs-down and the plus sign is a thumbs up)
Very broad copyright license on your content
The copyright licence that you grant to Facebook goes beyond the requirements for operating the service. For instance, it includes the right for Facebook to transfer the license or to license it others on their terms (“sublicense”). Also, the copyright license does not end when you stop using the service unless your content has been deleted by everyone else.
→ No promise to inform about government requests
The service has made no statement nor promised users to tell them about data sought by governments, thus not giving you a chance to defend yourself against government requests.
– Facebook automatically shares your data with many other services
Facebook automatically shares your information with Bing, Pandora, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Rotten Tomatoes, Clicker, Scribd, and Docs, unless you manually opt-out.
+ Transparency on law enforcement requests
The service is making clear to their users what standards and rules law enforcement must follow when they seek access to sensitive user data.
+ You can give your feedback before changes
Facebook will solicit your feedback during the 3 or 7 days minimum preceding changes to their terms. However, the results are not binding unless 30% of the active users voted.
– No pseudonym allowed
You must use your legal name publicly on the service. Using a pseudonym or a pen name is not allowed. This can have negative consequences on the freedom of expression, especially for people who exercise certain professions, or who live in certain countries.
There are similar lists for
Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Twitter, Flickr, Skype, SoundCloud, Xing, GitHub, Twitpic (class E!), Delicious (class D), 500px (class D), DuckDuckGo (class A), App.net, Steam, SeenThis (class A), OwnCube, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Myspace, Netflix, Verizon, Gravatar, Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Rapidshare, Dropbox, Comcast, Sonic.net, couchsurfing, Flattr, Freeforums, Nabble, Informe, WordPress, Spideroak, Foursquare, Loopt, Zoosk, eBuddy, Habbo, Evernote, Minecraft, vBulletin, RuneScape, BearShare, Wordfeud, OLX, phpBB, Xfire, World of Warcraft, bitly, Hypster, videoBB, identi.ca, Instagram.
Read the ratings here.