Blog post for the LSE Media Policy Project Blog by Veronica Donoso & Ellen Wauters
Veronica Donoso and Ellen Wauters wrote a blog post for the LSE Media Policy Project Blog on some of their recommendations for improving terms of service on social networking sites from their recently published EMSOC report. You can read their entry below.
Citizens need to know what their rights and obligations on social media platforms are and this can only be achieved if the laws and rules governing these services reflect users’ and “consumers’” needs, expectations, and values. This means that user-centric, dynamic and contextual ways of providing legal and policy-related information to users are required of companies.
Information about the rules governing SNSs are usually provided when the user registers for the service and they are often made available through links at the bottom of pages or almost hidden in the navigation. It seems timely to start exploring more effective ways of presenting such information. For instance, what about providing intellectual property rights information at the right place and the right time i.e. when it is really relevant to users? Why not remind a user about copyright issues when uploading a photo or a video which could infringe the copyright law? Of course, one could argue that contextual features of this sort may hinder the natural interaction flow of users with social media sites or Apps. Finding the right balance between information provision and a seamless social media user experience is crucial.
Citizens have to know what their rights and obligations on social media platforms are and this can only be achieved through higher standards set by the laws and rules governing these services. One avenue worth exploring is “smart disclosure”, using data to provide users with personalized information as well as visualisation and information design. Finally, more research is needed to explore the most meaningful ways to put these concepts into practice and to explore ethical and legal implications for providers as well as for users.