6.10 Terms of Service, Etc.

When you register to use an online service, you are almost always confronted with a checkbox you must click in order to proceed. Almost everyone checks it, but almost no one reads the Terms of Service to which they’re agreeing.

My overarching goal in this chapter (and this book as a whole) is to help you jump in and join the journalistic conversation. But you can’t ignore the legalities, especially if you’re planning to create media that may have a commercial aspect. Some people, including me, refuse to use certain popular sites—or take extra care not to use them for any significant work or play—because of restrictions they impose or how the sites might use the data posted there. I put Facebook into this category.

I strongly suggest that you do read the privacy policies and terms of service on the sites you use. I also hope that Internet services will liberalize their policies toward greater user privacy, freedom and reuse of what people post, such as promoting Creative Commons, a copyright licensing system that reserves only some, not all, rights for the author so that works can be seen and used by the widest possible audience. It’s in the best interest of the sites’ owners, I believe, to protect privacy and promote openness. That’s why I believe they’ll move more and more in those directions.

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