‘Yes, I’ve read the terms and agreements …’


WHS students have grown up with social media, but what do they know about their privacy settings?

Today’s high schoolers were toddlers when Facebook launched in 2004, but by the time they reached middle school, social media accounts had become a rite of passage.  However, over the past few months there has been a growing awareness as to how much social media corporations know about their users.

Part of this is due to the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, which was uncovered when a former Cambridge Analytica employee revealed that his political consulting firm had gained access to the personal information of 87 million Facebook users.

Junior Pierre Sulmont said he viewed the scandal as “the tip of the iceberg of what most social media sites do in relation to our data and internet activity.”

The most basic way to know what you’re agreeing to when signing up for a social media account is to read through the terms and conditions. However, it is clear that many students don’t read them in detail, if at all.

I have never read the terms and agreements,” junior Grace Gruters said. “I think that they are stupid long.”

Sulmont added, “Depends on the circumstance: If it is for a typical computer update or installment, I won’t, but in most other cases I’ll quickly [skim] over it.”

‘I feel exposed because I want to know how I can be on a website one minute and people know. I want to know how’

— Brady Smith

Even though they know that there is a risk of their personal information being spread by social media corporations, teens often don’t feel that the information they’re directly giving these corporations is harmful.

Anything I put out there isn’t something super dangerous: [It’s] my name, my high school, my birthday,” said junior Brady Smith.

Senior Chris Witzel agreed. “It’s information that you can find anywhere else…it’s not your Social Security number,” he said.

While students appear to be comfortable with the information they give these corporations, it’s what these companies attain without their knowledge that worries them.

Smith recalled a recent day when she was on the website for the clothing company Zaful, then went on Instagram and immediately saw a Zaful ad. “I see stuff minutes after I go online,” she said. “I feel exposed because I want to know how I can be on a website one minute and people know.

I want to know how.”