Nov 02 2015

Terms of Service and Privacy Policy Changes Making the News

Today, Snapchat, the popular social media mobile app that allows users to send instantly-destructible pictures and videos to friends, has been in the news (here, and here) because of recent changes to its Terms of Service (ToS) and Privacy Policy. Here are some key initial takeaways from this news event:

  • Security changes matter to consumers — and are getting due coverage.
    As a consumer, it’s great to see these policy changes make the news. A couple years ago, it was unlikely that consumers would be so aware of such changes. As consumer privacy continues to be a hot topic, we’ll be kept in the loop when it comes to controversial policy changes (especially when it comes to big services such as Snapchat).
  • Snapchat is the trend, not the exception.
    Policy changes like this are going to occur more frequently. Behemoths like Snapchat, Spotify, and Facebook are paving the way for smaller companies to follow suit with their ToS and Privacy Policies (albeit, probably with less of a PR crisis), and there’s not much we can do about it. Consumers should expect their data to be harvested.
  • With so many free services available to consumers, its easy to expose yourself.
    Managing your digital footprint (signing up for various online services, etc.) is key in controlling your information’s exposure. Just because a service is offered for free doesn’t mean that the provider isn’t benefitting. Almost always, free services like Snapchat offer their stuff for no cost; however, what they get in return is your data. Look at Facebook, which sets the standard for data collection.

Information is gold. Even a company that based its entire model on the disappearance of information has made the ‘switch’ to capitalize on data collection. The wealth/abundance of information is tempting, no doubt. Entire business models are being shaped around data collection, meaning that your online habits should be increasingly safer.