Who really reads ‘terms and conditions’?

Katie Pulvermacher, News Editor

Katie Pulvermacher / Advance-Titan
Despite encountering them most of the time people download an app or sign up for a service, many don’t read the terms and conditions. But what exactly are they missing in those mysterious words?

The countless amount of times I have downloaded an app or signed up for a website and been faced by the massive list of terms and conditions is unbelievable. I, like many others, do not read through the terms and conditions.

What is everyone missing out by glancing right over these?

While going around campus asking students, staff, faculty and community members if they read the terms and conditions, I was not surprised by the responses from the 55 who answered.
The highest response was “no” at a staggering 83.63%. This was followed by 14.54% responding “sometimes” and 1.8% saying “yes.”

“If it’s for school or related to my personal finances, then I’ll look through [the terms and conditions],” freshman Karisa Viverette said. “If it’s social media wise, I don’t.”

While asking people, common responses were “I don’t think anyone reads them” and “Why would I read them?”

According to Business Insider, a 2017 Deloitte survey of 2,000 consumers in the U.S. found that 91% of people consent to legal terms and services conditions without reading them. For younger people, ages 18-34 the rate is even higher, with 97% agreeing to conditions before reading.

The complex language often used in terms and conditions leaves consumers baffled and wanting to click “accept” without going through it all.

“The biggest lie on the internet is ‘I have read and agreed to the terms and conditions’,” said computer security expert columnist Mikko Hyppönen.

To prove this, Hyppönen’s company F-Secure set up a free WiFi hotspot in the heart of London’s financial district in June 2014.

Hidden in the terms and conditions of the free network was a statement saying “the recipient agreed to assign their first born child to us for the duration of eternity.” As we already know, most people do not read through the terms and conditions, and as a result, six people signed up.

Now we are all wondering, what have we agreed to in terms and conditions?

For the most part, terms and conditions consist mostly of the “terms, the rules and the guidelines of acceptable behavior and other useful sections to which users must agree in order to use or access your website and mobile app,” according to TermsFeed. Ultimately, you are not putting yourself in any danger by not reading them over, unless the website or app is a scam.

Some common websites include some interesting terms and conditions you have probably missed.

Buried in section 57.10 of Amazon’s terms of service, concerning the “acceptable safe use of lumberyard materials,” there is a whole clause relating to if a zombie apocalypse ever takes place:

“However, this restriction will not apply in the event of the occurrence (certified by the United States Centers for Disease Control or successor body) of a widespread viral infection transmitted via bites or contact with bodily fluids that causes human corpses to reanimate and seek to consume living human flesh, blood, brain or nerve tissue and is likely to result in the fall of organized civilization.”

Another funny, but somewhat known story relating to terms and conditions deals with the legendary rock band, Van Halen. The lead singer David Lee Roth would note all of the snacks the group wanted in a candy bowl. He specifically noted that they wanted no brown M&M’s.

If brown M&M’s were found, this indicated that their hosts had not read the contract well, and therefore could possibly make a technical error elsewhere.

The next time you come to terms and condition page, maybe you can find a funny clause such as the ones above — or maybe not, since most of us will still continue skipping over them anyways.