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 percent find it too long, 83 percent agree without having read it and 74 percent believe they do not understand it anyway. It also contains numerous words that around half of the respondents are not familiar with.

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

The technical terms in the guidelines are also problematic. Among the respondents, 62 percent were not clear about what an API is. They are mentioned an average of four times in the guidelines. 57 percent also don’t know what the term cookies really means, and 53 percent have little knowledge of third-party providers. The IP address says little to 46 percent, the General Data Protection Regulation is unclear for 41 percent.

2105 people between the ages of 18 and 50 were surveyed. The reading time was determined using the website, the level of difficulty in understanding using the Web FX Readability Test Tool.

The fact that 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, a lot is essential. There is more about this in the c’t data protection podcast.


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