UK-based Wi-Fi provider Purple recently conducted a clever experiment to prove how oblivious people are when agreeing to a company's terms and conditions.
The company added a "community service clause" to its usual terms that stated users may be required, at Purple's discretion, to carry out 1,000 hours of community service that may include: "cleansing local parks of animal waste," "providing hugs to stray cats and dogs," "manually relieving sewer blockages," "cleaning portable lavatories at local festivals and events," "painting snail shells to brighten up their existence," and "scraping chewing gum off the streets."
Not surprisingly, a lot of people agreed to the terms: not a couple dozen or even few hundred, but more than 22,000 in two weeks.
"Don't worry, we aren't going to round up these individuals and ask them to don their rubber gloves and repay the community debt," Purple wrote on its website. "The real reason behind our experiment is to highlight the lack of consumer awareness when signing up to use free Wi-Fi."
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Users who attempted to connect had the opportunity to flag the questionable clause in return for a prize. Only one person spotted it over the two-week experiment.
While amusing, this should be a wake-up call to users. "Wi-Fi users need to read terms when they sign up to access a network," Purple CEO Gavin Wheeldon said in a statement. "What are they agreeing to, how much data are they sharing, and what license are they giving to providers? Our experiment shows it's all too easy to tick a box and consent to something unfair."
Facebook recently rolled out a feature dubbed Find Wi-Fi aimed at help you stay connected when you're on the go. As its name suggests, Find Wi-Fi helps you locate available Wi-Fi hotspots nearby by displaying hotspots that businesses have shared with Facebook from their Page. Just be sure to read the terms and conditions before blindly connecting to one of the hotspots.