YouTube Lacks Video

Note: This blog was written for academic purposes, requiring an evaluation of social media platforms’ terms and conditions and recommendations for “re-drafting.”

Before seeing the YouTube Terms of Services page I thought the Facebook Terms of Service document was pretty bad, as in not user friendly (lengthy, not visually appealing, non-conversational language, etc.); however, the YouTube Terms of Services document gives Facebook a run for its money as far as being one of the worst social media terms documents. When I describe the documents as “pretty bad” or “worst,” I’m, referring to the level of understandability.  Not only is the document  incredibly lengthy, but the language consists of legal jargon not understandable to the “average Joe.”

Facebook Terms & Conditions

Facebook Terms & Conditions

For instance, try reading the very first item under “Your Acceptance,” which by the way, places a lot of responsibility on the user (“YOUR”). (Shown below.)

YouTube Terms & Conditions

YouTube Terms & Conditions (Click image to enlarge)

Although I must agree social media platforms are user-generated and should place a large responsibility on the user, the platform itself must also take responsibility as well, despite how hard policing an astronomical amount of uploads may be. In my personal opinion it’s only ethical to share the responsibility between those that are posting and those that created the platform in the first place. YouTube goes as far as placing responsibility on the viewers, which would seem difficult to enforce, as they may not have an account.

One of the items discussed in lecture was the accessibility social media terms and conditions documents. Again YouTube places the responsibility on the user, stating: “Although we may attempt to notify you when major changes are made to these Terms of Service, you should periodically review the most up-to-date version.”

Here’s an idea YouTube…step your game up. Play by the same rules as the rest of us, and put it in a video if you want people to listen. Or do you want people to list? While I agree you shouldn’t force individuals to watch an entire video on terms and conditions, as they may break their computer screen in frustration; however, you can prompt them to do so more readily. If the content is critical make users listen/watch to the whole thing, just like us non-paying Pandora users have to do when commercials play.

Regarding the terms and conditions document (not just changes, as mentioned above), did you (YouTube) ever think to put it in a video version? Wouldn’t it be most ethical (or best practice) to also utilize the power of audio/visual, as you encourage your users to do the same? Of course, in small digestible videos (like the rest of us) and maybe by category (Acceptance, Service, Accounts, General Use, etc.). Social media should be “social” or conversational (i.e. answer a question, put it in Q&A format).

Even though it’s a legal document, you can say it in plain English, or have two-versions if your stuffy lawyer tells you you still need the traditional format. Make it fun and preferrably in 3-ish minutes. Follow the same guidelines and recommendations we as users are told by the social media marketing experts, and maybe your terms of use will be read/watched and UNDERSTOOD more often.

Oh, and P.S. Your document is almost 5 years old! Get with the program! You wouldn’t not update your technology and features in 5 years, what makes it okay to keep your terms and services, and essentially your user agreement, the same.

P.S.S. I really love your product/platform YouTube, please accept my sincerest apologies for my attempt at a satirical bashing, while completing an assignment and providing some (what I hope to be) constructive criticism.

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2 thoughts on “YouTube Lacks Video

  1. Kaitlin,

    Your analysis of YouTube’s Terms and Conditions was very thorough and I couldn’t agree more with your findings. It seems as though YouTube thinks all of its’ users have law degrees because a lot of the statements they included in their Policies was very hard to understand. I think this has more to do with YouTube being connected with Google and because it is such a powerful platform (2nd most used Search Engine behind Google)–that’s my guess for why their terms and conditions are so lengthy and not easily understood.

    I couldn’t agree with you more that YouTube should instead make compelling, engaging videos that go over their Terms and Conditions. I think more people would have a better understanding of the what they’re getting into and would be more likely to actually read them.

  2. Thank you for your comment Tammy. I’m glad to hear I wasn’t the only one that had a difficult time understanding what was actually being said. I was beginning to question my level of intelligence, but you may have hit the nail on the head – I simply don’t have a law degree (loved that satirical comment).
    Thank you for sharing your feedback and shared opinion that video may be a more beneficial approach for delivering the Terms and Conditions. While I understand why such a mammoth company would need to cover all their bases from a legal standpoint, there’s no reason that they cannot do both – one method to appease the users and the other to appease the lawyers. We all win, and YouTube is repurposing content, just as us measly little marketers are taught to do. Join the club YouTube! 🙂

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