Why We Need To Take Terms And Conditions Way More Seriously

Every time you install a new app on your phone, you have to agree to some terms and conditions — which you do, blindly. But should we be taking those long passages of text more seriously?

In this video, Professor Tom Rodden explains that the average user lingers over the terms and conditions section for 1.5-2 seconds. Clearly, that means nobody is really reading the hundreds and thousands of words they’re confronted with.

Why? It’s because they’re long and complex. In fact, analysis of the text used in those documents — sentence structure, sub-clauses, that kind of thing — reveals that you typically need a bachelor’s or master’s degree to comprehend what they’re referring to. Google’s most recent change of terms and conditions, for instance, is as complex in those terms as Beowulf. If you’ve ever read Beowulf, you’ll know that it’s not… straightforward.

Rodden uses these kinds of findings to argue that we need to radically simplify the terms and conditions documents that we all encounter every day. We couldn’t agree more. [Computerphile]