The Journal of Web Science > Vol 2 > Issue 3

An Extended Investigation of the Similarity Between Privacy Policies of Social Networking Sites as a Precursor for Standardization

Emma Cradock, University of Southampton, UK, David Millard, University of Southampton, UK, Sophie Stalla-Bourdillon, University of Southampton, UK,
Suggested Citation
Emma Cradock, David Millard and Sophie Stalla-Bourdillon (2016), "An Extended Investigation of the Similarity Between Privacy Policies of Social Networking Sites as a Precursor for Standardization", The Journal of Web Science: Vol. 2: No. 3, pp 31-44.

Published: 09 Aug 2016
© 2016 E. Cradock, D. Millard and S. Stalla-Bourdillon
Privacy PoliciesStandardization 2Web ScienceData ProtectionSocial Networking Sites

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Open Access

This is published under the terms of CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

In this article:
1. Introduction
2. Related Work
3. Methodology
4. Results and Analysis
5. Discussion
6. Recommendations
7. Limitations
8. Conclusion and Future Works


Privacy policies are unsatisfactory in communicating information to users. Social networking sites (SNS) exemplify this, attracting growing concerns regarding their use of personal data, whilst lacking incentives to improve their policies. Standardization addresses many of these issues, but is only possible if policies share attributes that can be standardized. This investigation assessed the similarity of two attributes (the clauses and the coverage of forty recommendations made by the UK Information Commissioner) between the privacy policies of the six most frequently visited SNS globally. Similarity was also investigated by looking at whether any recommendations were not addressed by all SNS and if there were any themes of information discussed in the policies, but not included in the ICO Code. We found that similarity in the clauses was low, yet similarity in the recommendations covered was high. This indicates that SNS use different clauses, but to convey similar information. There were a number of recommendations which none of the SNS addressed. There were also four themes of information which all six SNS addressed, which were not recommended in the ICO Code. This paper proposes the policies of SNS already share attributes, indicating the feasibility of standardization at a thematic level currently. Five recommendations are made to begin facilitating this.