Just shut up and click ‘Accept’, dammit!

I’m amused – but not surprised – to learn that customer agreements can be more complex and difficult to read than some of the most abstruse works in the English language. The Daily Mail reports:

For even the most avid reader, Beowulf is a notoriously unwieldy classic.

With more than 3,000 alliterative lines written in Old English, many competent literary fans would consider it a struggle.

However, the Anglo-Saxon poem is not as epic as Google’s latest terms and conditions, according to a new study.

Scientists have found that the internet giant’s user agreement is more difficult to understand than the saga, which features the lines ‘Now Beowulf bode in the burg of the Scyldings/Leader beloved, and long he ruled’.

Google’s new terms and conditions, featuring AdSense service rules, are coming into effect on November 11.

Users are currently being asked to agree to the changes, which include the requirement to ‘opt out’ if you don’t want your image to be used in advertising.

The new agreement, which has been the subject of much debate, has also been found to be a more complicated read than Leo Tolstoy‘s Russian novel War and Peace.

‘You have to be a graduate to understand these terms and conditions,’ Ewa Lugar, a researcher at the University of Nottingham, told The Times.

‘Fifty per cent of the population cannot interpret them.’

There’s more at the link.

Well, of course they can’t understand them. The companies concerned don’t want us to understand them. They’re hoping we’ll get so frustrated by all the legalese that we won’t even try to understand them. Once we’ve given up and clicked the ‘Accept’ button, they can do what they like with our personal information, and make as much money as possible using it, whether or not we actually understand their intentions. If it turns out their terms of service don’t allow them to make money in some way they hadn’t thought of before, they’ll simply change the terms of service (as Facebook has done several times in the past, and as Google is currently doing).

Guess whose priorities – and right of privacy – come first with such companies? Here’s a hint . . . not ours.



  1. I liked reading Beowulf, I like it even more performed in Old English, in an appropriate space.
    I'd note, Beowulf deals with life and death, with the fall of nations, and heroes….it Ought to be both stirring and weighty.
    Google…deals with what exactly?

  2. Someday we're going to tell our grandkids about when the internet was useful.

    They're going to call us old coots who are likely senile if not insane because the internet was never useful from their perspective.

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