A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Terms and Conditions May Apply is an eye-opening documentary about the way that various online companies -- be they e-commerce sites, Internet service providers, search engines, or social media networks -- collect, store, and share their users' personal information, thanks to those long and usually unread terms of service agreements. There's occasional racy content and strong language (in text) shown on the screen, as well as blurry photos of people on Facebook or Twitter, but otherwise, this is an informative (and frightening!) documentary about consumers' digital footprints and how your every keystroke could one day be used against you. It's great family viewing for parents and tweens/teens who want to be safe, smart digital citizens.
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What's the story?
In TERMS AND CONDITIONS MAY APPLY, director Cullen Hoback interviews various privacy law experts, professors, hackers, watchdog groups, and activists about how companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, Twitter, Hulu, Netflix, and more are making billions mining personal data -- which can sometimes end up in the hands of law enforcement and the government without consumers' knowledge. The film explains in detail how, every time someone hits \"agree\" without reading companies' lengthy and legalistic terms-of-service contracts, they're agreeing to a lot more than they realize. Digital citizenship comes with a cost, these experts say, and that cost could be our collective right to privacy.
Is it any good?
A documentary about terms and conditions may sound as boring as the overlong, tiny-font policies it explores, but Terms and Conditions May Apply is actually a fascinating film. It should be required viewing for everyone -- or at least anyone who has ever (or will ever) used their computer to stream a video, join a social network, buy absolutely anything, or even send an email. Without sounding like a conspiracy theorist, Hoback explains how easy it is for companies to monitor pretty much everything you do online, thanks to cookies, service agreements, and users eager to share personal information without realizing how it might affect them.
Clips from the movie Minority Report and shows like South Park (when Kyle ends up in a "Humancentipad" because he didn't read the iTunes terms and conditions update) and Parks and Recreation (when April has to explain what "cookies" are to Ron) illustrate how dangerous it is to be ignorant about what we agree to online. Companies and the government are using and monitoring personal data in ways that could shock you: A middle schooler is considered a threat to the president for expressing concern over Obama's safety after Osama bin Laden's capture; a young tourist is refused entry to the United States because of a colloquial tweet about his plan to "destroy" America (as in, with his partying); a screenwriter could be considered a murderer for searching for "ways to kill your wife" for work. Watch this with your tweens and teens and discuss how to best protect your own privacy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how it's important to understand what it means to be an informed digital citizen. What steps can you take to ensure that you're using the best safety and privacy practices?
What did you learn from Terms and Conditions May Apply about using social networks and other companies? Did anything surprise or shock you? Does it make you think twice about what you share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.?
The filmmaker seems to imply that Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, is a hypocrite. What do you think of that one and only interview the director has with him?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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