Posts Tagged ‘Terms of service’

Will Live-streaming throw our privacy completely overboard?

April 2, 2015

The world of social media is changing at a quick pace and some innovations make it even shake in its foundations.  It has been touted that 2015 was going to be the year of the video.  But what is happening now is just mind boggling.  Personally, I love it! Live-streaming has just gone personal!  Meerkat and Periscope are among the shakers in this field.


What is meerkat or Periscope?

Live-streaming is nothing new but personal live-streaming surely is.  Meerkat and Periscope are personal live-streaming video apps using a twitter account to rally viewers and share live video content.  We are even more at the point of being a reporter with camera in hand (our smartphone) than with pictures.  And yes, today the service is only available for Iphone users.  Below is an infographic comparing the 2 main players.

infographic meerkat

Meerkat was the first to jump the gun and soon had many followers (over 100K in less than a month).  But then came along Periscope (by Twitter) and the steep rise stopped in favor of Periscope.  Who will be the winner?  I guess the app that gets soonest on Android/Microsoft, I think!

The potential of live video streaming is huge.  Creative marketers will be able to feast on new things they can do starting with streaming product launches, product demonstration, events, interviews, promotions and much more.

However, the biggest issue still has to be tackled.  Privacy is hitting yet another tilting point.

What privacy?

Privacy and the internet are an oxymoron and contradiction anyway.  But these apps hold the potential for many more breaches.  It could be a nightmare in the waiting.  Looking at the terms of use of both platforms (MeerkatPeriscope) they are dodging all responsibility and beyond.

Here is an interesting paragraph from Meerkat

All Content, whether publicly posted or privately transmitted, is the sole responsibility of the person who originated such Content. We may, but are not required to monitor or control the Content posted via the Services and we cannot take responsibility for such Content. Any use or reliance on any Content or materials posted via the Services or obtained by you through the Services is at your own risk.”

But beware and please read carefully the section after the word “reproduce”:

You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. In order to make the Services available to you and other users, Meerkat needs a license from you. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).”

The service claims not to store the video but are you really sure?  I would suggest you read these Terms of Service agreements carefully.

But again, you will ask me “Where is the privacy issue?”

stopWell, what if people start streaming live video from a paying event? Of from a soccer game where a TV station has paid the screening rights?  What if you are filmed and have not given your consent?  What if people start streaming video from places where disasters have happened?  These are all situations that will raise the bar in the privacy game.  And yes, the first events where Meerkat was banned are a fact.  But how can you stop this?  You can’t ask people to check in their smartphone when they come to your event.  Interesting times ahead!

Finally a last thought. If this service would have been offered by Facebook, the world would have been up in arms around the privacy issues but for now people focus on meerkat-in-carthe gadget level of these apps as if there is no issue.  We hear a lot of speak about using your common sense or like Meerkat puts in its rules “Be Kind”.  We all know where that road leads to.

Let me be clear that I am very excited to see these evolutions and technology appear. I will be a supporter from day 1 but will keep a close eye on the dark side of this technology.  I wonder what you think about this technology and the privacy issues that it entails.


Are we dumb? Lazy? Or naive?

December 11, 2010

We are joining social media platforms and making new friends every day.  Moreover, we even become friends with people we have never met before.  Some people pride themselves in having as many friends as possible and this is not without danger.

When horror stories began to appear in the US, we Europeans had some good giggles about all those stupid and silly things some people did.  Whether they were comments on Facebook, messages on Twitter or videos on YouTube, we could not believe our ears.  We got confirmation of the statement “only in the USA something like this can happen”.  It would not happen in Europe.  We, Europeans, know much better what privacy is plus we even think that our privacy is well protected.  Not to say, that we think we are smarter.  But nothing is further from the truth.  Looking at the newspapers over the last weeks, European horror stories are featured daily and they are not any different than we one’s we laughed at. Why?  Are we as dumb as the Americans or are we as naïf as they are?

Many of us are just unaware of the dangers of social media.  By providing information about yourself on social media you are giving up your right to privacy.  All the information is stored on a server “somewhere” in the world so how can you protect that data?  Of course, social media platforms provide a number of security and privacy settings but your data is still in the cloud and you have no control over it.  Luckily, I see a number of social media policies that clearly state that you give up your right to privacy when you participate to social media but the issue is that most people do not know of the existence of such a policy in their company not to say they have not read them.

Sometime ago I read a great quote by Sam Lessin: “Privacy used to be cheap but now it is a precious good that is expensive to keep”.  Even though this is very correct, I do not entirely subscribe to it.  I want to argue that if you do not want people to know certain details about you, you should just not post or share it on any social media platform.  Privacy is at your own discretion and under your control – End of story and free of charge!

The problem might have deeper roots.  It starts with the fact that 95% of us who participate in social media never read the terms of service of those platforms.  We press “I accept” within seconds since we really have no choice when we want to participate.  It continues with the fact that 50% never changes the standard privacy and security settings and thus opens the can of worms even further.  Finally, no one ever reads a book or manual on how to use the different platforms and that is where the biggest problem is lingering.  Did you ever read a book about Facebook or Twitter?  We no longer read manuals in general (even if we buy a car, mobile phone or digital camera) and are unaware of the pitfalls.  Is that not just the recipe for disaster?

Is there a role for government, business or the general education system here?  Yes, I am convinced of it.  People need this information and built up these skills so they can reduce these types of horror stories.  True, it is up to the individual to take some action but still a gentle push can go a long way.  Or even better, put a “how to use social media” manual or book under the Christmas tree this year for all your friends and beloved family and make them read it.

3 more items to add to your social media policy

June 20, 2010

A few weeks ago, I covered 3 items that could not be missing from a social media policy (Company philosophy towards social media, handling conflict and identity).  In a more recent post, I covered the reading and acceptance of the “terms of service”.  Today, I would like to add 3 more items to the list: disclaimers, ownership and hardware/software usage.

Starting with disclaimers, it sounds obvious but any personal blog should have clear disclaimer stating that the views expressed by the author in the blog is the author’s alone and do not represent the views of the company. Be clear and write in first person. Make your writing clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of the company.

When it comes to ownership, this area of the policy will clarify who owns what in terms of groups, fans, pictures, etc.  It is clear that anything created under the company’s logo and identity (email address included) is company property and should be transferable.

Finally, it is important to add a paragraph on hardware and software since the user will probably use a mix of platforms (work PC, home PC and/or mobile device).  These need to be protected against attacks and intrusions in order to protect the data of the company in profiles and others.  The use of company assets (computers, Internet access, email, etc.) is intended for purposes relevant to the responsibilities assigned to each employee. A clear statement about where what can be used at all time is a must and gives clear direction.

It is also a good idea for the company to provide information on what resources (eg. bandwidth used by YouTube) is taken up by different applications so that people are aware of the limitations and limit themselves the usage of certain platforms.

By implementing these 7 items, you are well on your way to creating a social media policy.  It is by far not all what can or needs to be such in a policy.  In future posts I will expand on more topics.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me.


Mob. +32 478 50 41 35



Find me also on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Netlog, etc.

Social Media Terms of Service – Did you know this?

May 16, 2010

Looking at last week’s on readability numbers the conclusion was that you need at least a university degree to understand what is said.  Meanwhile teens and people who have not benefitted years of education are joining these platforms and accepting the terms without reading.  Important to keep in mind that assume that your native language is ENGLISH!  What about us foreigners trying to read these terms…

But it is not all doom and gloom.  I also want to share some interesting facts I found when reading the ToS of the major social media platforms with you.

Most platforms require you to have a minimum age (13 in most – with parental approval till you are 18; LinkedIn requires 18).  However, Twitter has NO age limitation.

All sites obviously have the necessary claims regarding copyrights, trademarks, etc. and wave all responsibility, of course.

Here are some other interesting facts I found:


  • You must provide TRUE, ACCURATE, CURRENT and COMPLETE information -> A false identity can lead to termination.
  • You may not impersonate any person or entity, nor misrepresent your affiliation with a person or entity.
  • You can not use it for military, nuclear, and other weaponry.
  • If you get sick using their product, you can not sue them
  • You can not transfer your yahoo accounts


  • Here too you must provide accurate and complete information
  • You are not allowed to launch automated services onto the website


  • You must not describe and assign keywords that are misleading of unlawful
  • Your blog must be named correctly and not create illusion that is someone of something else.


  • A competitor may not have an account
  • You can only maintain ONE account
  • LinkedIn does not have any obligation to verify the identity but you can not use a false identity
  • You may not invite people to your network that you do not know
  • Have a real headshot and not a cartoon or symbol
  • Add content to fields in which is not appropriate (eg. Title field can not contain phone number or email).
  • Not to set up pyramid schemes or use LinkedIn to manage these types of pyramid schemes
  • When you die when using LinkedIn, you can not hold them liable


  • You may not provide false personal information
  • You can only have ONE profile
  • You can not use Facebook if you are sax offender
  • If you use Facebook from your mobile and the number changes you need to update within 48 hours.
  • No pyramid schemes allowed


  • No age limit
  • You may not impersonate others through the Twitter service in a manner that does or is intended to mislead, confuse, or deceive others.
  • You may not publish or post direct, specific threats of violence against others.
  • You may not engage in name squatting
  • You may not use the Twitter service for the purpose of spamming anyone (follow a large amount of people in a short time, repeatedly follow and unfollow people, your updates contain only links and no personal info, etc.)

So as you can see, reading these terms of service might not only prove interesting but also eye opening.  You will notice that there is a lot of abuse of the ToS being tolerated by the social media platforms.

Have you discovered other interesting terms which I have missed?  I look forward to hearing them from you.

Why are we not reading the Terms of Service

May 11, 2010

During my research and survey in February 2010, I have come across the lax way of people accepting the Terms of Service when you sign up and participate in social media platforms.

Rather than reading this document over 55% of the users accept them without reading them and thus not knowing what is in them.  I understand that some of these are difficult to read.  So I put it to the test and came up with interesting but not surprising results which I will share with you in 2 blogs.  Firstly, I will concentrate on the readability of these pages.

Some numbers:

  • Number of characters is between 15.000 (Twitter) and 40.000 (LinkedIn)
  • Number of words is between 3.000 (Twitter) and 7300 (LinkedIn)
  • Number of sentences is between 94 (Twitter) and  403 (Flickr)
  • Number of words per sentence is between 20 and 30.
  • There are about 5 characters and 1.8 syllables per word

With these statistics in mind I took a look at the readability of these texts and came to one conclusion: You need to be a graduate student to be able to read these texts.  I took a look at 2 these indexes (Gunning Fog Index and Flesh Read Ease score) and the results are as follows:

The Gunning Fog Index focuses on number of words in a sentence and percentage of 3 syllable words while the Flesh Readability Index focuses on number of syllables in a word and the number of sentences.  The standard Flesh Reading score should be in the range of 60-70 while the Fog Index is about 10 to 12. Note that Fog Index of over 18 or Flesh score under 30 means VERY DIFFICULT to read.

Just as a matter of comparison, Time magazine has a Fog Index of 11 and a Flesh Reading score of 52.  So here is where the different social media ToS stack up to:

Looking at these numbers the conclusion is that you need at least a university degree to understand what is said.  Meanwhile teens and people who have not benefitted years of education are joining these platforms and accepting the terms without reading.

Important to keep in mind that assume that your native language is ENGLISH!  What about us foreigners trying to read these terms… Ik know they exist in other languages!

Next week I will share with you some of the eye opening facts that I found…