Interested in the future of education? Check out STC’s latest Memo to Members, written by our own Joana Donavan!
By Zachary P. Miller
Historian, Future Technical Communicators club at UCF
The walls of text that make up user agreements like Snapchat and the simple agreement that is relatively user-friendly in terms of getting an account created are thought-provoking. Who are these agreements really for? In order to answer this question, we must understand the basis of these user agreements.
To ensure transparency between companies and their users, it is essential to take a human-centered approach to design the agreements that allow companies to succeed. More technical communicators need to design solutions that can convey critical points of user agreements rather than discouraging users from even attempting to read the agreements in the first place. Do you read them?
For the time being, I have collected some options for users to consider if faced with the problem we have outlined around user agreements.
- First off, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) can make it hard for third parties to track and capture your data. This bypasses the issue with the comprehensibility of user agreements by encrypting your data and disguising your identity.
- Users can also gain skills in identifying keywords within agreements that can give insights into what they relinquish with the acceptance of privacy policies and terms of service. The keywords to look out for will tell you what information the app or website collects, how long it keeps this data, and who they share it with. Keywords include accepting, agree, authorize, retain, and third parties.
- Companies might make their agreements more comprehensible through user experience research and design. Simply understanding user expectations, redesigning layouts, including visuals, and writing for comprehension to a broad audience can make a vast difference for users.
- This technological mitigation culminates in initiatives and tools that allow for a clear understanding of what data each website or application harvests from its users. The initiative titled Terms of Service; Didn’t Read (ToS; DR) seeks to help fix the “biggest lie on the web” that almost no one reads privacy policies and terms of service before agreeing.
We’ve got one last guest speaker meeting for you all! Eva Miranda is the president of the STC Rocky Mountain Chapter, and she recently volunteered to come present with FTC. The topic will be LinkedIn and best practices for networking. She will discuss how to put together a thoughtful profile and how to tailor it to your audience, particularly as students and new professionals. She will also be available for questions during the workshop.
Please note that this meeting will start earlier in the day than our usual general body meetings, at 12:00 PM Eastern Time next Friday, April 22. It will be recorded and sent out afterward as well. We hope you can join in!
Connect with Eva on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eva-miranda-23a570111
Join on Zoom: https://linktr.ee/ucf.ftc
Our club is running a book sale at the UCF Student Union Patio this week! Day 1 was yesterday, April 18, and we’re returning for one more round this Thursday, April 21. It is in partnership with Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society. All sales are donation-based, so you can name your own price. Come by to pick up a book, hang out, or help us run the table! Proceeds will be split between our two clubs, with some going to charity and some going to supporting our club’s STC Summit trip.
Welcome to the April 2022 edition of FTC’s monthly newsletter! We are in the final stretch of the semester now with just one month to go. Stay diligent and reach for the finish!
As we end the semester, our club has a few more things up its sleeve for you. Next week we have a book sale fundraiser on campus, one last guest speaker meeting, and our FTC Reunion Social. Each is sure to be a fun time and we hope you can participate!
Read on for all the details. Click here if you’d like to read last month’s newsletter as well. If FTC can help you in any way, feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com.
All the best,
President, Future Technical Communicators