MPs say the terms and conditions on sites including Facebook are filled with jargon and unsuitable for users.
The UK parliament has told social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to make their terms and conditions easier to read.
A report by the Commons Science and Technology Committee said: “The terms and conditions currently favoured by many organisations are lengthy and filled with jargon.
“The opaque, literary style of such contracts renders them unsuitable for conveying an organisation’s intent for processing data to users.”
The committee wants social networks to explain clearly to users how they collect their data and what they do with it.
Facebook’s terms and conditions run to 20,000 words and would take one hour and 45 minutes to read in full.
Google’s run to eight A4 pages, while Twitter’s terms of service are 3,500 words long.
The committee said that such documents are “more complex than Shakespeare” and “totally impenetrable”.
In the report, it recommended government creates “information standards” for web firms to sign up to.
The Information Commissioner’s Office would take the lead and the tech industry would be asked to “come forward with proposals to simplify terms and services online”.
Facebook recently came up with an updated terms and conditions with the tagline: “Everything you need to know, all in one place.”
Andrew Miller MP, chair of the committee, said: “Most people click yes to terms and conditions contracts without reading them, because they are often laughably long and written in the kind of legalese you need a law degree from the USA to understand.
“Socially responsible companies wouldn’t want to bamboozle their users, of course, so we are sure most social media developers will be happy to sign up to the new guidelines on clear communication and informed consent that we are asking the government to draw up.”