Users of Facebook and Google find their privacy policies even more confusing and frustrating than credit card bills and government notices, revealed a new survey conducted by global strategic branding firm Siegel+Gale.

According to the survey, which was conducted among 400 respondents, users have little understanding of how Facebook and Google track and store user information and activity, and how information is shared and with whom. On a scale of 0 to 100 (with a score of 80 indicating good comprehension), respondents who reviewed Facebook's and Google's privacy policies scored 39 and 36, respectively, demonstrating low comprehension.

Interestingly, after reviewing the policies, many respondents said they might reduce the amount of information they give to Facebook and Google. About 36 percent of Facebook respondents and 37 percent of Google respondents said they would change their online behavior by using these sites less, adjusting their privacy settings and clearing their search histories.

In addition, 47 percent of respondents said they feel less comfortable with how Google collects and stores information about user activities than they do with Facebook's practices.

Some Of The Key Findings:

  • Google and Facebook privacy policies are more confusing to users than credit card agreements and government notices. In similar studies, on average, 70 percent of respondents correctly answered comprehension questions for government notices and 68 percent of respondents provided the right answers for credit card agreements, far more than the percent of readers who correctly answered questions about Facebook's and Google's privacy policies.
  • A major comprehension issue is requiring users to use an Application Programming Interface (API) to understand how their information is used. Less than 40 percent of Facebook users understood how an API can be used to access and view public information.
  • 15 percent of users correctly understood what happens to their accounts after they are deleted on Facebook.
  • 20 percent of respondents could correctly identify how to block outside applications and websites from accessing their information on Facebook.
  • 23 percent of Google users understood that their profile is visible to anyone online.
  • More than half of Google users interviewed were not aware that the privacy policy also applied to their use of Google Talk, Google Maps, YouTube and Blogger.
  • 38 percent understood that Google connects search activity to a user's IP address whether or not they sign into a Google account.