Each and every social media account you have created has asked you to agree to their terms and conditions before continuing. You probably just scroll through without actually reading, then agree to them without having any idea what you are actually agreeing to. Am I right?

Honestly, I never used to read them either. But today I read them thoroughly — here’s why.


Student looking at their Snapchat map.

Photo by Kelsa Katzfey ’21


What are Terms & Conditions?

So what exactly are these terms and conditions that you’re agreeing to follow? To keep it short and sweet, social media platforms have these policies in place to do the following:

1. Prevent abuses

2. Own your content

3. Terminate accounts

4. Limit liability

5. Set the governing law


All of these seem pretty fair, but you’re probably wondering why you should care enough to read through these terms and conditions. Let’s dig a little deeper into Facebook’s and Snapchat’s specific terms and conditions to explain why this is so important.


Two of Facebook’s Terms & Conditions

1. “We may use all the information we receive about you to serve ads that are more relevant to you.” This information includes:

  • “things you share… what you like”
  • “keywords from your stories”
  • “things we infer from your use of Facebook”

2. “Permission to use your name, profile picture, content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related content… without any compensation to you.”

Two of Snapchat’s Terms & Conditions

1. “Many of our services let you create, upload, post, send, and store content… you grant us a license to use that content.”

2. “For all services other than Live, Local, and any other crowd-sourced service, you grant Snapchat permission to host, store, use, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish, and distribute that content.”


Learning of these terms and conditions for the first time can be quite shocking! Before reading these, I had no idea that Snapchat could use any of the content I share. That’s crazy!

Let’s see how our fellow peers reacted when learning about these terms and conditions for the first time:



Be in the Know

So, what happens when you don’t understand what you’re agreeing to when signing a terms and conditions policy? Well, without knowing it, your information could be posted publicly by Facebook, Snapchat, or other social media sites for thousands to see. You could even be promoting a business or product without knowing or being compensated. Yikes!


Remember to Read Carefully Before Clicking “I Agree” 

So now what? Next time you’re signing up for a new social media platform, be sure to take more time while to read through the terms and conditions. For the ones you have already accepted, go back and read them — you might be surprised by what you find.

– Co-written by Carly Sylvester ’20 and Erin Kloepping ’19