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Brilliant: A Lawyer Rewrote Instagram's Terms So Kids Could Understand Them

A privacy law expert translated complicated legal lingo into language that allows kids to understand what they're signing up for on social media sites.

Instagram Terms of Use Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock
Have you ever read Instagram's official Terms of Use? I tried once. But they're long, boring, and, let's be honest, difficult for even an adult to understand. Is it any wonder that most of our kids have no clue what their privacy rights are on the app, even as some of them spend up to nine hours a day on it?

"The situation is serious," explained privacy law expert Jenny Afia in a new report. "Young people are unwittingly giving away personal information, with no real understanding of who is holding that information, where they are holding it, and what they are going to do with it."

Scary stuff. Which is why, as the Washington Post explained, the UK Children's Commissioner tapped Afia to rewrite Instagram's Terms and conditions—which all users must agree with in order to open an account—in a way that children (and, you know, their parents) could actually understand.

The new simplified terms of service are featured in the Comminnioner's recently released report Growing Up Digital, and have been pared down from 17 pages to just one.

For example, a statement that previously read:

"You are responsible for any activity that occurs through your account and you agree you will not sell, transfer, license or assign your account, followers, username, or any account rights. With the exception of people or businesses that are expressly authorized to create accounts on behalf of their employers or clients, Instagram prohibits the creation of and you agree that you will not create an account for anyone other than yourself. You also represent that all information you provide or provided to Instagram upon registration and at all other times will be true, accurate, current and complete and you agree to update your information as necessary to maintain its truth and accuracy."

Now reads: "Don't use anybody else's account without their permission or try to find out their login details."

So much better!

Other long paragraphs were also condensed into shorter soundbites "Don't bully anyone or post anything horrible about people" and "Although you are responsible for the information you put on Instagram, we may keep, use and share your personal information with companies connected with Instagram. This information includes your name, email address, school, where you live, pictures, phone number, your likes and dislikes, where you go, who your friends are, how often you use Instagram, and any other personal information we find such as your birthday or who you are chatting with, including in private messages (DMs)."

Whoa! They can take info from private DMs? Pretty creepy!

"Instagram, like many social networks, leaves the user with very little information to exercise their rights or any genuine privacy," the report explains. "Children and young people have the right to know how the relationship between their rights and the rights of the service that they have signed up to use, functions."

Amen! To that end, click here to check out the rest of the new, easy-to-understand terms.

Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and mom of two who writes about parenting and pop culture. Check out her website holleeactmanbecker.com for more, and then follow her on Instagram and Twitter.