Study Finds We Might Owe Microsoft Our Children
Because nobody reads or understands the terms of service before agreeing
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2016 5:50 PM CDT
A scene that has pretty much never happened in real life, according to a new study.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – If Facebook or Apple ever turns truly evil, we might be in big trouble, apparently. A study published last week found that almost nobody reads online terms of service agreements—and even fewer understand them. Ars Technica reports 543 college students signed up for a fake social networking site called NameDrop, believing they were helping with a "pre-launch evaluation." They were actually agreeing to hand over their first-born child to NameDrop—enforceable through 2050—as well as have their data and information shared with the NSA, foreign security agencies, and all manner of third parties, according to Consumerist. But, of course, only 2% of participants realized they were agreeing to any of that.

The study found 399 participants didn't read any of the 12,000 words comprising NameDrop's terms of service and privacy policy. The other 144 spent an average of 73 seconds reading the privacy policy and 51 seconds reading the terms of service. Based on average reading speed, it should have taken 30 minutes and 16 minutes respectively. In the end, 98% of participants didn't notice any of the onerous clauses in NameDrops's terms. The study concluded that people "view policies as nuisance" and that "I agree to these terms and conditions" is the "biggest lie on the internet." (Amazon will void its terms of service if the zombies come.)