Many critics have questioned the legitimacy of privacy policies found on various websites. Concerns exist about the effectiveness of industry-regulated privacy policies. Moreover almost all organizations reserve the express right to unilaterally change the terms of their policies.

Fair Information Practices in the Electronic Marketplace found that while the vast majority of website surveyed had some manner of privacy disclosure, most did not meet the standard set in the Federal Trade Commission Principles. Also it is a big doubt if consumers even read privacy policies or can understand what they read, the possible issue is length and complexity of policies.

According to a 2008 Carnegie Mellon study the average length of a privacy policy is 2,500 words, the research and requires an average 10 minutes to read. The study cited that “Privacy policies are hard to read” and, as a result, “read infrequently.

A 2001 study by the Privacy Leadership Initiative claimed only 3% of consumers read privacy policies carefully, and 64% briefly glanced at, or never read, privacy policies.

Social networking services like Facebook and Twitter, in which users share information with friends and other contacts, have become hugely popular. The number one Internet social network, with 400 million users, as it comes under increasing scrutiny on privacy.

Facebook changed the way users’ personal profile information is treated last month. It now requires that data about an individual’s hometown, education and hobbies be tied to public pages devoted to those topics. Private chats between some Facebook users were briefly viewable by other users on May 5th, 2010 Facebook’s instant messaging service was disabled while engineers fixed the bug.

In February 2010, when Google launched a new social media service Buzz. It initially used an individual’s email contacts from Google Gmail to build a social network of Buzz contacts that the rest of the world could see. Though Google acted fast to change the settings so that contacts were kept private by default. It is an embarrassing technical fault for such big companies.