“I Have Read and Agreed to the Terms…” A New Look at the Readability of Social Media ToS and Privacy Policies

It’s often said that one of the biggest lies on the web is “I have read and agree to the Terms”.

According to a 2019 study from the Pew Research Center, only 9% of adults read privacy policies and terms of service agreements before clicking the “I agree” box. When asked why they didn’t, most users said they didn’t because the documents were too long and complex.

But is that true? How readable are the terms of service and privacy policies of some of the most popular social media platforms in Canada? And how long would it take for users to read these documents?

To answer these questions, we recently prepared two infographics showing how long it would take to read these consumer contracts and assess their readability. (More information about our methodology is included at the end of the post.)


  • The ToS and Privacy policies of all nine platforms required “college-level” comprehension. This is fine in most instances. However, it can be problematic for platforms such as TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram, which are more popular among teens.
  • There is a substantial variance in the length of the document types and across different platforms.
  • Overall, Reddit’s ToS and Privacy Policy would take the least time to read. Meta’s documents would take the longest, largely because Meta’s privacy policy covered all of its many products.
Readability of the Terms of Service of some of the most popular social media platforms in Canada.
Readability of the Privacy Policies of some of the most popular social media platforms in Canada. (YouTube, Facebook and Instagram do not have their own privacy policy. Instead, they use the privacy policy of their parent company.)


How Was The Data Collected?

The collection occurred on March 13, 2024. In an effort to capture how an average user would read these documents under real-world conditions, all text contained in the webpage was collected for review (inclusive of any preamble, ‘welcome’ message, and table of contents). Additionally:

  • Where a platform’s Terms of Service or Privacy Policy applied specifically to Canada, only it was reviewed (e.g., Snap Group (Snapchat) Limited Terms of Service).
  • Where supplemental or jurisdiction-specific text applicable to Canada was included in the main text, it was included, as was any supplemental or jurisdiction-specific text applicable to other countries (e.g., TikTok’s Privacy Policy).
  • Where supplemental or jurisdiction-specific text was included via collapsible text boxes and not applicable to Canada, only the text accompanying the “+” (Expand/Show) was included (e.g., Pinterest’s Privacy Policy). 

How Word Count and Readability Were Determined?

  • Every platform’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy texts were copied and pasted into separate Microsoft Word documents.
  • Next, Microsoft Word’s “Spelling and Grammar” check was applied – all grammatical and spelling suggestions were ignored.
  • Once the “Spelling and Grammar” review was completed, a window displaying the document’s word count and Flesch Reading Score appeared.
  • All word counts and Flesch Reading Ease Scores* were taken from this window.
  • To calculate “Time to Read”, the word count provided by Microsoft Word was divided by 250 wpm, the average reading speed.

* The Flesch Reading Ease Score is a metric used to determine the readability (how easy it is for a reader to comprehend) of a piece of text. Using a scale from 0 (extremely difficult to read/college graduate or professional) to 100 (extremely easy to read/grade 5), the Flesch Reading Ease Score can be used to compare the relative readability of different pieces of texts.