Parlez vous Legalese? Clear writing in privacy policies

Parlez vous Legalese? Clear writing in privacy policies

Most consumers don’t speak legalese. Legal teams generally write privacy policies. This mismatch leads to distrust. Consumers are starting to question what they agree to, who is selling their data and how much information is collected, and by whom. The lack of clear writing is creating a barrier between consumers and companies. 

Clear Writing - Faceapp LogoThink of the recent FaceApp storm. It went from being the hottest thing to a personal data nightmare! Here’s just one of the hundreds of articles covering the controversy. People installed the app and had difficulty reading the terms. Experts translated and explained the Legalese used in the terms. Only then did people realize the danger – the “sure, it’ll be fine” attitude was then blown out of the water.

Here just one sentence from the terms and how it scores for readability:

“You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content and any name, username or likeness provided in connection with your User Content in all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to you.”

A 60-word sentence of gobbledygook and legalese. No-one in their right mind would pore over this and the thousands of other similar words in the terms. And to provide objective proof, here’s how it scores for Readability and Grade Level. Come back after 32 years of education, and you’ll be fine. We must do better!

Clear Writing - Terms and Conditions Faceapp


Customer experience at every stage of the relationship

Businesses want consumers to engage with them and their content. Building trusting and long-lasting relationships are marketing goals. Teams invest in tone of voice and brand character development. However, many companies don’t fully commit. They ignore areas like privacy policies or terms of service. So how can we do better?

  1. Read your own privacy policy or terms of service. How understandable are they? What about other touchpoints across different communications channels? Your online FAQ? Your compliance notices? Try VT Readability for an objective review.
  2. Learn why words matter. Why should you measure your tone of voice and how do you do it? Here’s a blog to start you off.
  3. Work with your legal team and other subject matter experts to update content. How can you make sure that each piece of communication is engaging?