Data protection guidelines for social networks: up to 104 minutes of reading time

Social network users are often overwhelmed when it comes to reading the privacy policy. A survey by the Addictivetips portal found that 89% find it too long, 83% agree without reading it, and 74% believe they don’t understand it anyway. It also contains numerous words that about half of the respondents do not know.

It takes an average of 104.8 minutes to read the TikTok guidelines. According to, you need to be at least 17 or 18 to understand them. However, the age from which it is possible to register on the social network is 13 years. WhatsApp only allows use from the age of 16. The data protection guidelines can already be understood from 13-14 years old, but their reading still takes 85 minutes. With WeChat it’s 74.4 minutes, LinkedIn is much shorter in reading time at 48.2 minutes. Twitch’s policy is the shortest, although the minimum age here is also 13 and understanding should only be given around the age of majority. Flickr and Tumblr write in a way that is understood by ten-year-olds.

Technical terms in the guidelines are also problematic. Among the respondents, 62% were not clear what an API was. They are mentioned on average four times in the guidelines. Furthermore, 57% do not know what the term cookie really means and 53% know little about third party suppliers. The IP address says little at 46 percent, the General Data Protection Regulation is unclear for 41 percent.

2105 people between 18 and 50 years old were interviewed. Reading time was determined using website, comprehension difficulty level using Web FX’s readability test tool.

The fact that the guidelines are long and difficult to understand is not a new phenomenon. Google tries, for example, to adapt the texts and make settings easier to find. However, much is essential. There’s more about this in the c’t podcast on data protection.


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