Ethical concerns about social media privacy policies::do users have the ability to comprehend their consent actions?


Social media platforms capture and trade consumer data for analysis, user profiling and for sale to interested parties and is used extensively in marketing. To collect, store, process and resell this data, they are legally required to obtain informed consent. However, users may agree to consent without the ability to comprehend the consequences of what that consent means. In this article we examine the complexity of privacy policies and raise ethical concerns about the ability of users to comprehend their consent actions. Using readability scores and reading fluency instruments, we analyzed the accessibility of privacy policies from a major social media platform (Meta) and a smaller platform (Twitter). Findings indicate that due to reading fluency and document length it is unlikely all users, especially minors, can authorize the consent actions which raises ethical concerns. Practical implications for managers and policy makers are also discussed and regulators may need to review users’ access to platforms where they lack the ability to comprehend their consent actions.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Engineering & Physical Sciences > School of Infrastructure and Sustainable Engineering > Engineering Systems and Supply Chain Management
College of Engineering & Physical Sciences > Aston Logistics and Systems Institute
College of Engineering & Physical Sciences
Additional Information: Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social media platforms consent procedures,consent actions,ethics,informed consent,privacy policies,readability,Marketing,Strategy and Management
Publication ISSN: 1466-4488
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2024 07:30
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2023 08:29
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: https://www.tan ... 4X.2023.2232817 (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2023-07-07
Published Online Date: 2023-07-07
Accepted Date: 2023-06-29
Submitted Date: 2022-08-30
Authors: Hanlon, Annmarie
Jones, Karen (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-7166-6104)



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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