Time to read WhatsApp’s privacy policy

Research by Reboot reveals that it takes around 53 minutes to read WhatsApp’s privacy policy and 29 minutes to read its terms of service.

WhatsApp came under fire after it changed its privacy policy in January, along with an ultimatum to accept the new terms or lose access to the service.

According to Facebook, the changes only impacted how users’ data would be shared with businesses they interact with on the platform.

However, in Facebook’s original notice about the changes it drew attention to the fact that the privacy policy contained a clause that allows Facebook to share data from WhatsApp across its other products.

This caused an uproar.

South Africa’s Information Regulator did not take kindly to these changes, especially because it differs from WhatsApp’s privacy policy in Europe.

The regulator said South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act (Popia), which came into effect on 1 July 2021, is similar to Europe’s GDPR.

“We’ve advised WhatsApp that we believe they should adopt the EU policy in South Africa,” Information Regulator member Alison Tilley said.

Tilley added that they are considering all its options in its engagements with WhatsApp over its changes to its privacy policy.

Had WhatsApp’s privacy policy changes not made headlines, very few people would have noticed it.

It is not surprising. Many people simply click “Accept” when they are faced with a new “term of service” or “privacy policy”.

The terms and conditions from prominent players became incredibly long — typically multiple pages of complicated legalese.

Research by Reboot showed just how laborious it is to read the privacy policy or terms of service of prominent companies.

It found that Shopify is the online application whose ‘terms of service’ take the longest amount of time to read at approximately 76.7 minutes.

PayPal is the online application whose ‘privacy policy’ takes the most time to read at approximately 53.3 minutes, followed by WhatsApp with 52.5 minutes.

The table below shows the time it takes to read the terms of service and privacy policies of prominent online platforms.

Rank Online Application How long it would take to read ‘terms of service”? (In Minutes) How long it would take to read ‘privacy policy’? (In Minutes) Combined Minutes
1. PayPal 38.7 53.3 92
2. Shopify 76.7 12.4 89.1
3. Amazon 48.8 33.9 82.7
4. WhatsApp 28.9 52.5 81.4
5. Twitter 43.1 38 81.1
6. Discord 54.5 25.5 80
7. Twitch 51 28.5 79.5
8. Facebook 31.6 34.2 65.8
9. Google 26.3 36.4 62.7
10. YouTube 25.9 36.4 62.3
11. Instagram 25.7 34.4 60.1

Now read: WhatsApp privacy policy fight in South Africa

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Time to read WhatsApp’s privacy policy