A report by MPs has said that social networks do not make their user terms clear enough, and should revise the relevant pages to make them more easily understood.
The Responsible Use of Data report (PDF) from the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee highlighted concerns that the increased use of social networks is leading to a more complex use of data.
The report cited a Facebook mood experiment as an example of potential misuse of this data.
People are put off learning more about their rights on social networks because the information is complex and overlong, according to the study.
"We have not been convinced that the users of social media platforms are fully aware of how their data might be used and what redress they may, or may not, have if they disagree with how an organisation exploits that data," it said.
The report suggested that reading the full privacy information for social networks would take the average user one month out of every year.
"Drafted by lawyers to be used in American court rooms, the contents of terms and conditions have been designed to protect organisations in the event of legal action," it added.
"As a mechanism for showing that users have provided informed consent, so that organisations can process incredibly personal data, terms and conditions contracts are simply not fit for purpose."
There are positives in the report, however, noting that some networks are making efforts to simplify the information. Facebook, for example, provided more guidance on its policies this week.
The report suggested that controls over the movement of data may be out of date, and called for some government intervention over standards and the possibility of fresh legislation on data transfer and use.
"Personal data should not be undervalued and the government has a clear responsibility to explain to the public how personal data is being used to make improvements to products and facilities," it added.
"The government needs to lead the conversation around security of personal data, so that in future years members of the public can engage with online services with the confidence that their personal data is secure."
The report comes in the same week that internet companies, including Facebook, were blamed for failing to spot messages between the terrorists who went on to murder fusilier Lee Rigby.
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