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No One Reads Terms of Service

Nope, no one reads terms of service (TOS). According to boingboing, on April 1st, gamestation.co.uk added to its TOS that by clicking, you give them your immortal soul. Check this box to opt out. 7,500 users didn’t check the box!

Even if people did read TOS, most people probably couldn’t understand them anyway. Carlos Jensen and Colin Potts showed that the reading level of most TOS is well above the reading level of most Internet users. Of course whether people can read or understand something doesn’t affect whether it is legally binding. But a further complication is that there’s nothing stopping people writing TOS from putting in terms that aren’t enforceable. The only way to tell if something is enforceable is to litigate it which, doesn’t often happen just cause it’s so expensive. Even experts often can’t agree which ones are valid.

So welcome to the bizarre present: we are ruled by documents that no one reads, that most folks couldn’t fully understand if they did read, and that are filled with conditions many of which are not legal/enforceable anyway!

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  1. April 25, 2010 at 1:02 am

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