Most people are familiar with the saying “don’t sign your life away,” knowing the consequences of signing a document without reading its contents. While signing actual paper documents is still common practice when it comes to certain agreements, clicking the “I agree” box or button has also become a way of accepting terms and conditions. However, do people take clicking on the “I agree” box as seriously as signing their name on the dotted line?
With technology advancing at what seems to be the speed of light, more and more companies are using the “I agree” box as a way to protect themselves against consumers who claim not to have given consent to access their personal information.
For instance, most of us engage in social media posting updates on Facebook almost daily and use applications, such as FarmVille to play with friends online. However, are people aware that just by having a Facebook profile they have agreed to certain terms and conditions? How many have actually read the terms and conditions before clicking the “I agree” box or button? Do they know that by downloading certain apps on Facebook, like Farmville, they are allowing that app to access their personal information?
At BBB, we’ve received complaints from consumers who were charged for using certain apps on social media sites, because they didn’t realize they were agreeing to charges associated with the use of that game or app. In most cases, they clicked on the “I agree” box or button without reading the terms and conditions, thinking they were just signing up to play a game. In the company’s defense, they argue consumers have a choice to use the game or app, but they have to agree to the terms and conditions.
So, we go back to the question: Do people view the “I agree” box or button as seriously as signing their name of the dotted line? If not, what can be done to change the public’s perception, making them aware they could potentially “click” their rights away?
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