Terms of Services - A Section Often Ignored Because of Its Length (infographic)

What comes to your mind when you see the option of "Terms and Conditions" right at the bottom of the screen before signing up for any digital service? Do you click on it to read your rights and the compromises you would be making upon downloading the app or using the service?

Well, while a common answer to this would be "of course I would", the reality is that nearly 97% of the people in between the age group of 18-34 click on to agree with any given condition without actually reading them thoroughly.

Today, there are millions of apps and services in several application stores and some with massive data breaches in the past few years - especially by companies which people used to love and trust e.g Facebook, one shouldn't click to agree without reading what one is getting into.

As the wider understanding of this carelessness by people shows us that much of the blame falls onto how service agreements are deliberately made long enough to irritate people, a Dima Yarovinsky decided to do a project with the name of I Agree that basically visualizes the overall length of such agreements. To be exact, she divided her research into two aspects; the total word count and how long would it take for an average user to go through the whole document in detail.

According to the statistics provided in the research, an average adult reads around 200-250 words per minute. College students - as they are more accustomed to reading lengthy texts can speed up to 300 words but that's again the only limit.

Hence, moving forward with the estimate, the reading times of service agreements attached by bigger technology companies on their websites were calculated.

Microsoft topped the list as the result of the study presented this strange fact that it would take almost more than one hour for an ordinary person to read all the agreement - which surprisingly is slightly short of the total read time of Shakespeare's Macbeth. However, not to forget, this "very studious" terms & conditions section actually covers the entire suite of products that the company offers at the moment.

An in-depth analysis of the agreements also showed that the document basically comprises of only all the legal matters when it comes to using the app or service, but its magnitude can vary with the evolution of technology. The document is further divided into sections (each representing a part of the service) and therefore you can find headings like rules that govern developers, online cash transactions, and much more.

If one American decides to read all the digital contracts of every online service that he has used till date then it would take 250 hours for him to complete the task.

Besides that users also have this inner feeling that even if they go through the agreement, they can neither raise their voice to oppose, change, or even refuse to accept. So, the only option they are left with is to agree.

The Flesch Reading-Ease Test

Textual frustration is also another element that Dr. Rudolf Flesch discovered by observing that some part of the documents had legal language included - only to make reading difficult for the less literate person. Simple sentences were also found to transformed into longer ones with dragged arcane words.

Flesch decided to determine the variability in reading comprehension and in order to do so he started studying all types of writings and developed a formula based on two metrics primarily.

1. The number of words in each sentence

2. The number of syllables in every single word.

A higher score meant that the document is easy to read, whereas, lower numbers pointed towards the fact that how passages are harder to read and understand.

Performing the Flesch Reading-Ease Score (FRES) test showed us the particular education level for every kind of text.


And then the service agreements were ranked according to the test results.

Although one can argue that none of the companies have advanced-level English text but almost all of them do have a fair amount of legalese fit into the document that then discourages users.

Why It Matters: You Are The Product

While the apps, software or fancy internet services bring ease and joy into your lives, these companies also behave as the forefront for data collection - just to deal in the multi-billion dollar industry.

What you're doing on the platform is getting stored up as information regarding you - which is further transformed into databases of user patterns. By doing so, marketers are getting the amazing chances of reaching out to their customers at lower costs and there is a high chance that they know all of your instincts, only to convince you into buying their products.

Now, do you want to be an easily available product by not really reading the terms and services?

How long would it take to read the terms of service agreements of popular online services

Infographic courtesy of: Visualcapitalist.

Read next: Privacy for a Premium: Exploring People's Sentiments on Paying for Social Media (infographic)

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