Nearly one in ten (87% ) of people accept privacy policies without reading them, which can take over 47 minutes to read fully and are full of jargon, according to new research.
Addictivetips.com has surveyed 2,105 individuals to investigate how effective privacy policies are based on how much we understand and how clear companies make them. They also scoured the top social media platforms’ privacy policies to uncover how readable they really are, taking into consideration the age ranges that they allow to sign up.
Of the 2,105 people surveyed by Addictivetips.com, a massive 87% said that they don’t read through privacy policies before agreeing to hand over their data. So why don’t we read privacy policies?
• 89% of participants said they are too long
• 83% said they’d consent whether they read it or not
• 74% felt they wouldn’t be able to grasp what they were reading
After looking at the privacy policies of different social media apps, addictivetips.com found that on average they are 6,152 words long – this would take 47.3 minutes to read fully.
Interested in seeing how clued up we are when it comes to the language used in these policies, Addictivetips.com asked participants if they felt they could define or understand the following words commonly found in privacy policies:
API (Application Programming Interface) tops the list of commonly used lexical jargon that we don’t understand- yet it appears 4 times on average across the privacy policies looked at.
Cookies, third-party and IP address follow closely behind with 57%, 53% and 46% of users not understanding their meaning respectively. Cookies and third-party were mentioned in all privacy policies and IP address in 93% of policies – despite widespread lack of understanding in the terms.
It’s clear to see that scandals surrounding GDPR and the introduction of the Data Protection Act in 2018 wasn’t enough to help some people gain a better understanding of the term as Addictivetips.com found that 41% of people are still unsure what it means despite it being mentioned in 87% of policies. .
Addictivetips.com have compared the 15 most downloaded social media apps to see which one would give their users the hardest time, and whether it was accessible to the age range that they allow to consent to using the app.
This disparity between reading level and minimum sign up age is not only an issue for TikTok. WeChat, Reddit, Quora and Twitch have the highest difficulty levels, as the estimated reading age is 17 to 18-year olds. However, their minimum sign-up age is 13, meaning that thousands of their users won’t be able to completely comprehend what they are signing up to.
The same could be said for Viber, Snapchat and Pinterest users who all have age consent of 13 years and older but require the education of a 15 to 17-year-old to understand their respective terms of service.
On the other hand, Tumblr and Flickr users should have a better chance understanding what they are signing themselves up for as the reading grade matches that of 8 to 10-year olds.