These Are Instagram’s Terms Of Service, In One Sentence

Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
Let's be honest, Instagram's terms of service aren't the most compelling read, mainly because the legal jargon can be hard to understand for anyone who didn't pass the Bar exam. That is why one lawyer decided to put the app's rules in terms we all can understand. As The Washington Post pointed out, Jenny Afia, a privacy lawyer in London, rewrote Instagram's terms and conditions in "plain English" so that users, specifically teens, could understand. “Young people are unwittingly giving away personal information," she told the paper, "with no real understanding of who is holding that information, where they are holding it and what they are going to do with it.” It doesn't help that Instagram's terms and conditions come to a whopping 5,000 words and are of a "postgraduate reading level." But, after several hours reworking the terms, Afia managed to break it down to one easy-to-read page. She even managed to condense the app's terms of use into one simple sentence that teenagers could understand: “Don’t use anybody else’s account without their permission or try to find out their login details.” To help teens understand Instagram's lengthy privacy policy, she reworked it to be two long sentences: “Although you are responsible for the information you put on Instagram, we may keep, use and share your personal information with companies connected with Instagram. This information includes your name, email address, school, where you live, pictures, phone number, your likes and dislikes, where you go, who your friends are, how often you use Instagram and any other personal information we find such as your birthday or who you are chatting with, including in private messages (DMs).” By doing this, Afia found that teens were more likely to read and understand what they were signing up for. After checking out Afia's re-written terms of service, one 13-year-old girl said, “I would use Direct Messaging a lot less if I knew [Instagram] could read them." Afia hopes that Instagram will think about simplifying their terms of use so that "children can actually give informed consent.” If Instagram's users are more informed, she also hopes this "will lead to some consumer pressure from the children and they will start demanding more." For now, Afia says "parents need to bear in mind children are children until they become adults — not until they pick up a smartphone. We need to treat them as children.”

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