Date of Award


Degree Name

Communication Studies


College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Stephen D. Cooper

Second Advisor

Cynthia Torppa

Third Advisor

Barbara Tarter


This project investigated the legal contract to which users must agree before creating a Facebook account. Multi-methodological in nature, this research explored user knowledge and perception of the contract as well as how the contract measures up to the principles which Facebook claims serve as its foundation. For the quantitative portion of this analysis, a survey including measures of knowledge and perception was administered to respondents. The qualitative portion critically compared Facebook’s legal contract to the list of principles espoused by the company on their website. These analyses reveal that users rarely read this contract before agreeing to it, tend to not understand its terms, and find many of Facebook’s business practices to be of questionable virtue. Further, a number of disparities between the principles and the legal contract were discovered. Results indicate that individuals tend to read contracts concerned with the digital world with far less frequency than their real-world counterparts. Findings suggest that future research could investigate the reason for this difference in approach. Additionally, the qualitative method developed for this study – although simple – could be fruitfully applied to any organization that espouses an ethical or ideological stance in its mission statement, purpose, or goals.


Social media - Law and legislation.

Facebook (Electronic resource) - Law and legislation.