The NPR article was really interesting to me because I am extremely guilty of not reading any Terms of Service for the various platforms that I use. As the article states, very few actually do. It was a bit terrifying to see that something like “giving up your first born child” could be included in terms of service and in the experiment only 2% of people noticed the clause.
Social media companies and other platforms capitalize on the short attention span of people and use it to include agreements that greatly benefit them. We tend to get angry at companies for using our data in frustrating and malicious ways, but the reality is that we agree to them. While companies probably bend the rules from time to time, we legally agree to have our data sold and distributed in many cases.
The last part of the article also raised a really good point. Most people agree to these Terms of Service and are ok with their data being used because they believe they have nothing to hide. The article makes the point that a grocery company might sell your purchase data to your insurance company, and they might raise your rates if they believe you are at a health risk from eating poorly. This is a perfect example of how your data provides very intimate knowledge of who you are.
I do not know the solution to this problem, because I have probably never read a Terms of Service page fully. People’s attention spans are short, so they are never going to become fully informed about what they are agreeing to. The article states that it would take the average person 40 minutes every day to fully read and understand all the the terms and services that they agree to. While this may not seem like a large amount of time to some people, 40 minutes is hard to spare for many people with full time careers, and many others are simply too lazy to put that time aside. For something that seems like such an unimportant and mundane task to so many, it truly is far more important that any of us acknowledge.