On 2 October 2017 Twitter will have new Terms of Service (TOS) for users outside the United States of America. This, obviously, also affects Twitter users in Afrika.
Twitter notified users via e-mail and as you access the app that the new TOS will affect them and that they need to accept them in order to continue using Twitter. Upon inspection, some users got alarmed and outraged by a specific section of the TOS that relates to content ownership, copyright and licensing.
Although Twitter explicitly states in its TOS that all content posted by any user is their property, i.e. you own any and all content you post on Twitter, it does however also state the following:
Twitter Terms of Service.
"By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed)."
This, according to Twitter, gives them the right to make the user content available other companies, organizations or individuals for syndication, broadcast, distribution, promotion or publication other media and services. This portion is what seems to have had so many Twitter users outraged.
But why the outrage?
Sure, it sucks that Twitter can use and generate income from your tweets and content without reimbursing you. What I don't understand though about this new outrage towards Twitter's TOS is did any of the users enraged by the new TOS ever read the older TOS or even read the TOS when they signed up? It also goes without saying that you can't have a Twitter account unless you accepted (voluntarily I might add) Twitter's TOS which have had this section regarding content licensing for many years now.
Are we simply getting outraged for the sake of getting outraged?
Are Twitter's TOS so horrible compared to other similar platforms?
It turns out that Twitter's TOS regarding content licensing is quite similar to Facebook's.
Screenshot of Facebook's Terms Of Service.
They are also not very different to Pinterest's TOS.
Screenshot of Pinterest's Terms Of Service.
They don't differ much from Instagram's TOS either.
Screenshot of Instagram's Terms Of Service.
The only TOS that are quite different from the others when it comes to content licensing is LinkedIn's (but then again who uses LinkedIn? 😊)
Screenshot of LinkedIn's Terms Of Service.
As you can see so far, Twitter's TOS is pretty much similar to other popular social networks, answering my second question: are Twitter's TOS so horrible compared to other similar platforms?. With that settled (I hope) let's look at answering my first question: are we simply getting outraged for the sake of getting outraged?
I think so.
Florent Crivello, Software Engineer at Uber, articulated it succinctly (although discussing something unrelated) when he tweeted (ironically) that "absence of latency allows us to have knee jerk reactions on everything…".
10b/ worse: the absence of latency allows us to have knee jerk reactions on everything…— Florent Crivello (@Altimor) August 29, 2017
It seems the main problem, in my opinion, is how social media, and unfortunately Twitter, allows us to send short chunks of text and receive almost immediate feedback on the transmitted message resulting with some (a large number) abandoning thought before transmitting. Unfortunately, the problem is not only a human one as I also believe that social media through its various features incentivizes such behaviour (e.g. RTs, re-shares, Likes etc.).
I digress, slightly.
My main point here is that next time before you rush to your phone or keyboard to rant and express outrage, realise that perhaps you need to investigate the topic and think about what you are about to transmit a little longer. All the outrage directed at Twitter over the past couple of days could have been less had users spent an extra 5 minutes checking the old Twitter terms. Had they spent slightly more time they would have also realized that Twitter is no different from other social media platforms. More importantly, they could have realized that they actually voluntarily accepted these TOS when they signed up to Twitter, after all, Twitter is a for-profit company whose services you are not obliged to use.
"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."Victor Frankl, Neurologist and Psychiatrist
I guess it is appropriate to end this with a tweet (which I otherwise wouldn't be able to embed if the outraged had their way with Twitter's TOS):
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"Reality is reality. Good luck selling your shit to people who never see it"— Parker Thompson 🐿 (@pt) September 2, 2017