In an article recently published by TIME in collaboration with the Center for Plain Language, a selection of the world’s leading and regularly visited tech websites were ranked in a list in relation to their privacy policies. In short, they rated the companies based on the manner in which they communicated with the public while walking them through their privacy policies. In this case, it wasn’t the actual data that these companies collect from current and potential new users that was being analyzed. Instead, this study looked at the way in which that information is brought to the attention of these users.
When picking apart a company’s policy, it’s important to think about how users can actually benefit from taking the time to read it. While that may sound obvious, we’ve all come across our fair share of unfortunate company pages (such as T&Cs, FAQs, or even About Us sections) that add up to a bunch of unintelligible language that we ultimately digest as gibberish. Regarding the level of clarity in a company’s policy, TIME writes:
Does the policy, for instance, make it easy for people to limit the ways in which the company collects their personal information? Or are instructions about opting out obscured in the policy’s hinterlands with no hyperlinks?
In addition to Google, within the list are three social media platforms that many of us use on a regular (if not daily) basis: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. When taking a closer look at these four websites’ policies, it becomes clear that they approach the issue of individuals’ privacy and personal information in very different ways:
2. Facebook: While certain policies simply acknowledge that they store and analyze user information, Facebook’s “What kinds of information” section takes it a step further, breaking down each kind of interaction users have while using the site and clearly explaining which information is collected and stored while those interactions are being executed.