Image-Based ToS/EULA Research Report

 

LAB41
Research Laboratory
info@lab41.org

Date:            17 June, 2018

To:            Alex Smith, PhD

Deputy Director of Customer Services at Facebook Inc.

From:            Nathan Scott

LAB41 Research Laboratory

Subject:        Recommendation report for Image-Based Term of Service (ToS) and End User License Agreement (EULA)

Purpose

In this report I will be talking about how having image-based Term of Service (ToS) and End User License Agreement (EULA) will make more consumers read it and understand it compared to text-based ToS/EULA. I had 28 participants volunteer to take on online survey, all of them said they use at least five web services and most them and I both were facing the same problem about reading ToS/EULA, so it’s clear that someone needs to think about a solution for this problem.

Summary

Research shows that consumers are not as willing to read text compared to image (Humans Process Visual Data Better). This caused consumer  to agree without reading when signing up for web-based or non web-based businesses/services. There are examples of this being a problem because they blindly agree to ToS/EULA’s and are not aware of the consequences of what they signed their information away to. The Cambridge Analytica/Facebook incidence is an example of this; the reasons why consumers ignore long-winded text ToS/EULA agreements before they agree is known by researchers. There are studies conducted showing that consumers will blindly click agree on ToS/EULA agreements without even reading the conditions first (Grady). Other research shows that humans naturally learn quicker through image-based learning rather than text-based learning (Cakebread). Combining these two fields of research I hope to conduct my own research into using image-based learning with ToS/EULA agreements so that the consumer is more easily able to understand the terms and conditions of what they’re signing up for without blindly clicking agree. The consumer wants to know their privacy rights but this study shows that they don’t want to spend the time or they cannot understand the term when reading through all the ToS/EULA. The service provider needs to protect itself legally and providing long-winded text-based ToS/EULA keeps them in the clear, but it is burdening on the consumer. The proposal focuses on the idea of transforming long-winded text-based ToS/EULA agreements into image-based versions so that the consumers can more quickly and effectively understand their privacy rights when signing up with businesses that have terms of services involving consumer private information.

Introduction

A Deloitte survey of 2,000 consumers in the United States found that 91% of the respondents agreed to legal terms and service policies, but did not read the details. For young people aged 18-34, the ratio is even higher, and 97% agree to the pre-reading conditions. For most people, the language is too complex and difficult to understand. Clearly, consumers are willing to accept the potential risk such as lost battle in a lawsuit when service provider violate consumer’s privacy rights. Because of free services business model, most companies will sell their consumers’ names, emails and other information to third parties who want to advertise with them. Although most consumers have privacy awareness, they can only be helpless in the face of complex and difficult-to-understand stereotyped privacy.

Deloitte Survey (Cakebread)

The ToS or EULA of service providers and their products is long and often accompanied by many technical terms. Consumers find it difficult to understand because these technical terms build up a language barrier between consumers and service providers. For these reasons, consumers click the “Agree” button to skip or ignore the full ToS/EULA. However, the consumers’ move will likely result in the inability to know the privacy rights they have and what privacy rights they will sacrifice. From a small-scale perspective, consumers may only sacrifice a bit of their personal information, but from a larger perspective, this may affect legal proceedings and even national elections. (Please see the US Congress’s Facebook Case Hearing in 2018). From other studies, data shows our human brain processes images much faster than text. Therefore, this research tries to explore whether consumers will read and comprehend image-based ToS/EULA over text-based versions. The benefits of this research will be helping to find a better way to redesign current ToS/EULA for the future. Our goal is to gain a better consumer experience from an aspect of reading speed and understanding.

Research Methods (Tasks)

I conducted a research survey along with the following four tasks to explore whether consumers will read and comprehend image-based ToS/EULA over the text-based.

Task 1: Survey Research Questions Design

Research questions needs to contain the information below:

  • Respondent’s background information
  • Respondent’s expectation of how a ToS/EULA should be
  • Respondent’s experiences of current text-based ToS/EULA
  • Respondent’s experiences of a image-based ToS/EULA example
  • A comments section for Respondent’s to explain more

Task 2: Send out research survey

  • Target group age: 15-35
  • Target gender: Male / Female
  • Target region: Continental of United States

Task 3: Generates research survey results

  • Interactive results generated by Microsoft Forms (A tool similar to Google Forms)
  • Result in two major parts (Question 1-4: Respondent’s background information; Question 5-13: research questions)

Task 4: Interpretation result and analysis

  • Explain the meaning of yes/no for each research question.
  • Analysis of overall research result for each research question.

Results (Tasks)

Result of Task 1: Survey Research Questions Design

  1. What is your full name?
  2. What is your email address?
  3. What is your gender?
  4. What is your age?
  5. Do you have at least 5 online service providers’ account? (e.g. Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, and so on) Yes/No
  6. Do you read at least 80% of ToS/EULA each time before you accept the service or product? Yes/No
  7. Can you read entire ToS/EULA within 30 seconds (e.g. average length of ToS around 2,518 words)? Yes/No
  8. Would you prefer that you can understand the ToS/EULA within 30 seconds? Yes/No
  9. Do you care if the service/product will share your privacy with third party companies that are not under your privacy rights? Yes/No
  10. When you read ToS/EULA do you think you fully understand it? Yes/No
  11. After you read ToS/EULA, do you still remember at least 50% of the content? Yes/No
  12. What type of ToS/EULA would you prefer? Text-based / Image-Based
  13. Comments

Result of Task 2: Send out research survey

  • There are total 30 research survey sent out via multiple social channels.
  • There are total 28 people respond the survey.
  • Within these 28 Respondents, 7 out of 28 used their phones while others used their computers.

Result of Task 3: Generates research survey results

An example for compare a text-based ToS/EULA vs an Image-based ToS/EULA

See the full interactive results

 

Result of Task 4: Interpretation result and analysis

In the comments section some Respondent

Question 1-3: ignored for now

Question 4: there are total 28 Respondents, the youngest is 20 years old, and the oldest is 33 years old. All Respondents’ age fall into our target range.

Question 5: there are 96% of Respondents that had 5 or more online services, this guaranteed they have experienced some of text-based ToS/EULA.

Question 6: there were 89% of Respondents that did not read the entire ToS/EULA each time before they accepted the service or product.

Question 7: there were 96% of Respondents that did not read the entire ToS/EULA within a short amount of time like 30 seconds.

Question 8: there are 89% Respondents prefer to understand the ToS/EULA within a short amount of time like 30 seconds.

Question 9: there were 86% of Respondents that did care about their privacy with third party companies.

Question 10: there were 82% of Respondents that did not fully understand the ToS/EULA they were read.

Question 11: there were 75% of Respondents  that could not remember the content of the ToS/EULA they read.

Question 12: there were 71% of Respondents that did prefer image-based ToS/EULA.

Question 13:  Respondents’ comment as follows

  1. Respondent: “I think image-based but heavily organized”
    My opinion: True and false, it is heavily organized at beginning, however there are over 80% content of ToS/EULA are same or similar. Therefore, for long run it is possible to implement image-based ToS/EULA.
  2. Respondent: “Image-based ToS/EULA could be more effective at conveying the most important aspects of consumer’s privacy rights to the consumer directly. Rather than a wall of text that consumers barely read”
    My opinion: I agree, that is the whole purpose why all smart phones using icons instead of pure text.
  3. Respondent: “I feel like many users already don’t read the ToS/EULA as is, and having a picture based ToS/EULA will just enforce that bad habit. It is a good idea, however, to provide a link to the actual text version if users are so inclined to actually read the text version.”
    My opinion: I agree, link image-based ToS/EULA will get more flexibility to both consumers and service providers. From a consumer perspective, consumer do not have to read all ToS/EULA in text at beginning, if they want to know more details they still be able to click on each badge that link back to the section of text-based ToS/EULA. From a service provider perspective, just simply add one more layer on text-based ToS/EULA but nothing else. This way, service provider still able to cover their legal liabilities while provides more consumer friendly interface (image-based ToS/EULA).

Conclusions

According to this research survey, we can conclude that consumers are more likely to want to have an image-based ToS/EULA instead of a text-based ToS/EULA. Based on the results, we can easily see that there is a conflict situation in-between questions 6, 9 and 10. As service providers, they need to understand consumers not wanting to read their ToS/EULA is not equal to consumers not wanting to care about it. There are still 33.34% of Respondents that consider text-based ToS/EULA to be more accurate than image-based ToS/EULA. From an interpretation perspective, yes. However, if we link each image-based ToS/EULA back to text-based ToS/EULA then we will gain both flexibility and accuracy. After the Facebook incidence, there would be more and more consumers that would start to care about their privacy rights. If we combine text-based ToS/EULA and image-based ToS/EULA, it will help to come up with a reduced lawsuit risk when consumers understand their privacy rights. It will also help answer the question of how to balance between convenience and legal liabilities.

Recommendation

I have come up with a recommendation that can possibly solve this problem and show how the service provider can implement it so that the issue can be resolved. This will benefit both consumers and their service providers.Collecting consumer survey data will help analyze the problem and the severity of it. It’s better to get everyone’s opinions and come up with a mutual understanding. But, due to time constraints I cannot get enough survey simple data. Therefore, I recommend increasing the sample size to gain more survey data for further analysis purpose.

Reference

Berreby, D. (2017, March 03). Click to agree with what? No one reads terms of service, studies confirm. Retrieved June 11, 2018, from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/mar/03/terms-of-service-online-contracts-fine-print

The author points out “(to) look is not (to) read.” On average, the more careful participants spent around a minute with the thousands of words that make up “NameDrops” privacy and service agreements. If the design nudges them instead to follow a habit that years of click-to-agree has instilled upon them, then they’ll do that instead. Ubiquitous EULAs [End User License Agreements] have trained even privacy-concerned users to click on accept whenever they face an interception that reminds them of a EULA, Bhme and Kpsell wrote. That suggests it might be possible to address the no-reading problem with design fixes. There are, after all, other ways to conceive of our relationships to Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and the thousands of other entities that ask us to sign these documents. It might make more sense, Obar suggested, to hand off the work to specialists, the way millions already hand off tax preparation to accountants. You don’t have a contract with a doctor, but you can expect her to adhere to the Hippocratic Oath and a host of other obligations to you because of her license. Digital agreements could be governed by a code of ethics that bars their parties from abusive terms. Click to agree could be changed to a system that better protects us, and one that doesn’t make liars of us all.

Cakebread, C. (2017, November 15). You’re not alone, no one reads terms of service agreements. Retrieved June 11, 2018, from http://www.businessinsider.com/deloitte-study-91-percent-agree-terms-of-service-without-reading-2017-11

The article is based on a Deloitte survey of 2,000 consumers in the U.S found that 91% of people consent to legal terms and services conditions without reading them. They created a fake social networking site called “NameDrop” and wrote up a terms and services agreement for users to agree to before signing up. For a person who has ever tapped “I agree” to a legal terms and conditions agreement after hardly giving it a glance, he is not alone. From the author’s points of view, the language is too complex and long-winded for most, and apparently, consumers are willing to accept that the worst most companies will do is sell their name and email to a third party that wants to advertise to them.

Grady, C. L., McIntosh, A. R., Rajah, M. N., & Craik, F. I. (1998, March 03). Neural correlates of the episodic encoding of pictures and words. Retrieved June 11, 2018, from http://www.pnas.org/content/95/5/2703

In this research, the author concluded people have phenomenal memory abilities. Decades prior it has been demonstrated that individuals can recall more than 2,000 pictures regardless of whether the introduction time amid the examination is short, and the precision of the acknowledgment test is no less than 90% inside a couple of days. This incredible picture memory has dependably outperformed our capacity to remember words. What’s more, different activities that influence memory execution are distinctive for pictures and content. One such task is the level of preparing impact, which is the upside of later hunting down better or semantic handling jolts amid encoding. In simpler terms, this level of impact is more prominent than for pictures, since picture memory is great even after shallow or non-semantic encoding. One hypothesis of predominant picture memory instruments is that photos consequently partake in various portrayals and relationship with other information about the world, empowering more intricate coding than words. This hypothesis implies that there is a subjective distinction between the way words and pictures are handled within memory.

Humans Process Visual Data Better. (2014, September 16). Retrieved June 11, 2018, from http://www.t-sciences.com/news/humans-process-visual-data-better

The article states, the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, and 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual. In addition, visual information makes it easier to collaborate, and generate new ideas that impact organizational performance. Visualization works from a human perspective because human brain responds to and processes visual data better than any other type of data.