The Deal With Documentaries: The truth behind the terms

“Terms and Conditions May Apply” highlights the shortcomings of consumers.


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Every gadget we have, from phones to TVs to every app we download, has its own terms and conditions. You know that long thing that you never read and hit “accept” to get the annoying gray box to go away? Companies use this consumer ignorance to their advantage.

In those agreements are basic rules, like no piracy or illegal use, but what else are you agreeing to? Most people do not know, and most believe that those agreements have no legal precedent that could end up having serious ramifications in the future. The documentary Terms and Conditions May Apply explores those agreements and might make consumers think twice when checking “I agree.”

One of the most-accepted agreements are those of Apple. Every time there is a software update or new app, or just periodically, users have to agree to new terms and conditions. Within these terms are listed what you can and cannot do with Apple products. Also in the terms and conditions are what you allow Apple to monitor. Users agree that Apple can monitor their app usage, use searches to recommend purchases and use information to compile a personal profile. If you ever open up the news app and see a story that is related to recent searches of yours, that’s why. Companies can get you to agree to about anything within the terms and conditions.

GameStation, an online computer game website, updated their terms and conditions for a day to include a pretty serious stipulation. Within their jargon, they hid that if you accepted their updated terms and conditions, you agreed to forfeit your soul. After their one-day soul spree, they had collected 7,500 souls. They published their bounty as a prank and removed the stipulation, thus returning all claimed souls.

While this scenario is a little comical, the underlying message is that a company can get consumers to blindly agree to signing away personal right. Terms and Conditions May Apply explores the idea that consumer laziness is at an all time high. All technology comes with a sense of responsibility. All people should know what they are agreeing to and what they are allowing their information to be used for.

Another topic explored is the idea of online threats. The film cites many cases where users have tweeted or posted something that could be taken in a threatening way. A traveler from the UK to the USA tweeted “Gonna paint the town red.” He stepped off the plane at LAX and was detained for his tweet. Another man posted a quote from a movie but changed the location to a local shop and thirty minutes later, SWAT showed up at his door. Online comments are not always reported as a serious threat, yet choosing to post what you might think as innocent could end you up in deep trouble.

Terms and Conditions May Apply is a documentary that questions the contents of terms of agreement. Most of the modern world is hooked into some form of social media, all of which have their own terms and condition agreements. Watching this documentary promotes self-responsibility and encourages the average consumer to actually understand what they are consenting to, making Terms and Conditions May Apply a must-watch.

MOVE gives Terms and Conditions May Apply 3 out of 5 stars

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