Think of the biggest lie you’ve ever told. Now, think of the biggest lie you’ve ever told over and over and over… How about “click here after you have read our ToS (terms of service)?” Oh, yeah, that one! I don’t know anybody (besides my sister) who reads the terms of service. We all want to hurry up and click that virtual speed bump out of our way! “Agree…scroll….Agree….scroll…Ok….”
Then at some point we start complaining about the way this program works. We NEVER agreed to such a thing…nobody ever told me! Oh, wait…uh oh. The funny thing is that even if a company discloses everything in the terms, end users still get mad and call them ‘sneaky ‘ because they didn’t read it. I have to admit that sometimes the legal mumbo jumbo is hard to understand. I have said more than once that a lawyer could make a killing translating the legal terms of service jargon to English for the rest of us so we could make sense of it. They could blonde-ify it for us: Yes, they have access to your stuff. No, they won’t sell it. Yes, this site is legit. I would totally pay for a service that did that.
Why am I bringing all this up? Well, yesterday Google released their ‘new and easier to understand’ terms of service. It seems that people were attacking them for not making it clear that they were going to scan your emails to determine which ads would show up in your inbox. I’ve heard the complaints and I’ve seen it in action in my own Gmail inbox, but to be honest, I never read the terms of service. Google spokesman Matt Kallman said that these changes “will give people even greater clarity..” After comparing the Terms of Service from April, 2014 and November, 2013 I’m not sure I’d call it ‘giving clarity’ as much as saying it out right to begin with. Here is the line that was added yesterday:
Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.
Personally, I take no issue with this. I’m glad they spelled it out for us but it doesn’t change my mind about Google or Gmail. I will continue to use it all. I always feel like I’m getting incredible tools for free so if an ad helps them provide these services to me then I’m fine with it. And if I’m going to have ads then I’d much rather them be something that interests me. I am not in the market for Wonder Sauna Hot Pants but thanks for asking….