The 'Terms And Conditions' of 13 Most Popular Apps Would Take 17 Hours to Read

If you don’t like reading terms & condition agreements (T&C’s), you’re not alone. A recent report from budgeting fintech, thinkmoney, has uncovered why many of us accept the T&C’s without reading them…

It would take around 17 hours to complelety read the terms and conditions of the top 13 most downloaded apps

After analysing the word count in the privacy/data policies and T&C’s of the 13 most downloaded apps of 2020, their research revealed that they totalled 128,415 words.

To put this into perspective, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone word count is 76,944, Chamber of Secrets has 85,141 words, and Prisoner of Azkaban has over 107,253 words.

With it taking the average person around one minute to read 125 words, this means it would take a staggering 17 hours and 5 minutes to read the policies and terms of service from start to finish. What’s more, this doesn’t take into account actually understanding what the average person is reading, as the wording for T&C’s can be seen as too complex and wordy.

What apps were analysed?

As you can see from the graphic below, the most downloaded apps taken into account were Microsoft Teams, Candy Crush, TikTok, Twitter, WhatsApp, Slack, Facebook, Messenger, Zoom, Gmail, YouTube, Instagram and Google Meet. 

Candy Crush Terms are longer than any social media apps analysed

Microsoft Teams made the first on the list, with its 18,282-word count. However, what’s most surprising is that King, the owners of Candy Crush, came in second place – making it longer than any social media apps analysed. At a word count of 14,189, this is almost half the average size of a novel.

Their policy mostly details information on how they share certain personal information until you opt-out, suggesting you do not need to read through what you would like to accept before downloading. Instead, you could download it and opt-out of these preferences straight away.

You could watch over 30 dozen TikTok videos in the time it would take to read its data policy and terms of service

Ironically, most of the apps analysed target teens and adult teen users, with TikTok being no exception. Of all the social media apps analysed, TikTok’s data policy and terms of service are the longest.

Totalling 11,698 words, it would take 1hr 33 minutes to read from start to finish. With the average TikTok video length being 15.6 seconds, you could watch 370 videos in the time it would take to read the policies – which is often what most people end up doing anyway.

90 percent of consumers accept T&C’s without fully understanding what they mean

The European Commission produced a report on attitudes towards terms and conditions and found that 90% of people accept them without fully comprehending what they are agreeing to.

With the above word counts analysed, this confirms a reasoning behind why so little people choose to not read the T&C’s. But if people aren’t reading them, are they even aware of what their apps are accessing? thinkmoney have delved into this further by analysing the permissions that apps are asking before being downloaded…

Facebook and Messenger apps ask for the most data permissions

Of the apps analysed, Messenger and Facebook required the most permissions – 46 and 45 retrospectively. Whilst some of the permissions included access to your precise location, contacts, phone, microphone and camera, which are said to be the more risky permissions – they are also required for the nature of these apps.

92 percent of the most popular apps ask for camera and phone permissions

thinkmoney’s analysis also found that 92% of the apps analysed asked for access to the camera and photos stored on the phone, as well as access to the microphone – making them the most popular permissions. Again, this is due to the general function of the apps themselves, as the camera and phone are required to use each of these apps to their most potential.

It would also explain why there was only one app, Candy Crush, that didn’t require this camera and microphone access, as it’s not needed with the nature of this app.

But what app permissions should you be worried about?

Generally, this question depends entirely on the application and learning the finer point of each would take too much time. Instead, some general tips include:
  • Don’t go overboard with the number of apps you downloaded and personal data you trust your phone with. Instead, do your research beforehand and have regular clear-outs of apps.
  • Be mindful of app permissions before accepting. If an app is asking for access to data that isn’t relevant to its function – that’s a red flag.
  • Keep the software on your phone up to date by installing new phone updates as soon as they become available. This is one way of staying ahead.
  • Check how your phone is running after downloading an app. Malicious apps tend to drain the battery really quickly, as they operate unseen in the background.
  • Ensure you clear all of your apps and personal data from your phone before you sell it.
In addition, Jonny Sabinsky, Head of Communications at thinkmoney, states: “Protecting our customers is vital to us. That’s why we have multiple security methods to access your thinkmoney account and dedicated resources to help people identify scams. This is why we feel it’s important to educate people on their phones and applications, as we all use them daily. Hopefully, our guide will help people understand their apps a little better and remember to keep safe when browsing.

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