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University of Portland Clark Library

Digital Privacy Checkup: Understanding Terms of Service

Terms of Service

User data is valuable. It is important to know how service providers can use your data so you can make informed choices when using various platforms.

Terms of Service (TOS) agreements are legal agreements between a service provider and the person who uses the service. These agreements are often long and written in "legalese." However, providers such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Google all ask that their terms of service be accepted before you can continue using them.

TOS agreements explain what the service is and how you can use it, and in return, what the service is allowed to do with your data. For example, the TOS for Instagram states that it has license rights to any photos posted by users. This means that Instagram can license a user's photo to a third party, receive a fee, and not ask the user's permission or share the fee with the user. (Ten Things you should know about Instagram's terms of use.)

Overview of Terms of Service for Multiple Providers

Know the Answers to These Questions

Does this vendor employ user data to deliver targeted ads?

Who has access to the user's personal information?

Who owns the user's personal information?

Can the user change or update their personal information with the provider?

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