I have long thought about the unbalance that exists between us, the consumers and providers of mobile and on-line services such as Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Box.com etc.
Some argue that we are not consumers since we do not pay for the service but they’re wrong since we do pay with our participation, with our data, our facts, our contact lists, our interactions with others, our words and pictures while often being fed targeted advertising based our data. What is then the difference between the consumption of physical products and services, consumption of services in which we pay with money or our participation? Since we are consumers of these services I call for a their user agreements, terms and conditions etc. to be reasonable from a consumer perspective.
Now I know that those who are of a politically liberal view usually advocate a anarchic wild west philosophy of ”do you like it then don’t use Facebook.” and some claim the same but from their naive minds.
With the same nativity lots of people seems to think that these companies are kind towards us, that they are trustworthy and almost your friend. They’re global corporations and not non-profit organizations or government institutions. They’re harvesting your data for profit and unknown purposes and usage come with a cost. One CEO in the days of the first dotcom bubble (IT-bubblan in Swedish) claimed ”In the new economy you do not have to make a profit.” and see how it went. Now we’re in a second era of hyped IT companied but some of them have learnt a lesson.
As an exaple, last summer Facebook anoyed me when they refused to let my legally correct name change be approved. What’s the number to their customer service? No, these companies probably doesn’t have customer service and we as users have very little to say, even though we commit to follow a long and complicated user agreement. Other examples are Facebook’s double standards for sending requests and messages and the moralism and censorship exercised in social media, especially when it comes to nudity.
Is that how it should be like?
Would it have been okay to you
- if the railway company didn’t book the trip when you quite correctly filled out the booking forms and got the answer on the next page that the information was received?
- if the hairdryer that you brought is highly dangerous due to poor electrical safety?
- if your brand new car comes with no warranty?
- if the store you enter is allowed to see which music you have in your phone and get access to all the information stored in your phone book?
- if a service provider downloads material from any site that you post a link to and claim their right to use that material without the copyright owner’s approval?
I suppose not so why is there no legislation efforts to provide consumer rights, fair agreements, warranties and similar when it comes to on-line services?