Children’s Commissioner looks at young people’s rights on social media

02 Oct 2017 Becca Cawthorne

The Children’s Commissioner has released a new set of guidelines that hope to ‘jargon bust’ terms and conditions and teach young people about their rights on social media sites.

The guidance

The new guides, published on TES,  are one page documents explaining what the terms and conditions mean for the social media sites Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat and YouTube.

Each of the guides are also broken down into three sections – ‘our rules’, ‘your rights’ and ‘our rights’.

The guides include explanations about the age a user need to be to use the services, the rights you have while using the site (for instance, the right to complain or ask for content to be removed), as well as information about the types of data these websites might collect about you.

Why is it needed?

The guidance is developed from the Children Commissioner’s Growing up Digital Report which tested the terms and conditions of Instagram with a group of young people and found that many struggled to understand these.

According to a BBC article on the subject , Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, said:

“Children have absolutely no idea that they are giving away the right to privacy or the ownership of their data or the material they post online”.

Drawbacks of simplifying terms

However, it has been pointed out that simplifying terms may not always be helpful.

In the same BBC News article, Robert Lands, from law firm Howard Kennedy, said:

“There are a number of reasons that terms and conditions are quite long. It’s not to confuse people, it’s the opposite. When you need to explain difficult concepts, sometimes it takes words to do it.”

Instagram has said that there were inaccuracies in the simplified version of its policies, according to the article.

“It is wrong to suggest we share young people’s personal information, contact details or content of direct messages with advertisers without their permission. Nor do we share details of who people are messaging with.”

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