"The first edition of the book came out in 2013, and our knowledge on some topics, such as social networks and mental health, is changed A LOT."
This investigation provides extensive information about the scope of the data flows and the web of third-party companies that receive that data to build detailed and intimate profiles of individuals, often without their knowledge.
"If [the sellers] can confuse the consumer enough then the consumers won't necessary know what choice they're making and they can be talked into just about anything." - Richard Cordray (Former Director of CFPB, 2014)
"Google for years has used misleading notifications to lure users into disabling its rival’s browser extensions [...] The changes include requiring users to answer whether they would rather “Change back to Google search” after adding the DuckDuckGo extension and showing users a larger, highlighted button when giving them the option to “Change it back”.
Many of health apps also have a dark side — selling your most personal data to third parties like advertisers, insurers and tech companies. [Podcast episode]
"The roughly translated “big data swindling” (大数据杀熟, dà shùjù shā shú [...] is a hotly debated term used to describe a mix of dark patterns and dynamic pricing that online platforms employ to exploit users..."
A review of recent (2020) work on dark patterns. The authors demonstrate that the literature does not reflect a singular concern or consistent definition, but rather a set of thematically related considerations.
News article summarising the findings from the research paper "Price Salience and Product Choice". "StubHub concluded that so-called “drip pricing” [...] resulted in people spending about 21% more."
This paper introduces the concept of "Asshole Design" and described the properties of asshole designers. The most related part of this paper is the authors differentiating dark patterns to asshole design properties, emphasizing the definition of dark patterns in relation to bad designs, value-centered, and asshole designs.
"UX doesn't live up to its original meaning of 'user experience.' Instead, much of the discipline today, as it's practiced in Big Tech firms, is better described by a new name. UX is now 'user exploitation.'"
Like millions of others, Netflix r̶e̶c̶o̶m̶m̶e̶n̶d̶e̶d̶ autoplayed The Social Dilemma documentary to my iPhone, and it made an impression.
An interaction criticism analysis of dark patterns in consent banners.
In this video Professor Lior J. Strahilevitz presents new experimental research on Dark Patterns. He examines their effectiveness, and assesses the role of market forces and legal regulation in constraining their use.
The paper investigates the effects of dark and bright patterns in cookie consent requests on users’ consent decisions and their perception of control over their data.
This paper reports on qualitative research (focus groups and interviews) carried out on the theme of Dark Patterns.
The findings of this paper "support the notion that the EU’s consent requirement for tracking cookies does not work as intended. Further, we give insights into why this might be the case and recommendations on how to address the issue."
Academics working with StubHub carried out a huge test on hidden fees vs vs upfront fees. Users who weren’t shown fees upfront spent ≈21% more and were 14% more likely to complete a purchase. This research involved several million participants.
"A challenging exploration of user interactions and design patterns. To play the game, simply fill in the form as fast and accurate as possible."
Using a corpus of more than 100,000 political emails from over 2,800 political campaigns and organizations sent during the 2020 U.S. election cycle, we find that manipulative tactics are the norm, not the exception. Our data can be browsed atelectionemails2020.org
"GDPR expects specific prerequisites for a lawful consent, which should be valid, freely given, specific, informed and active… however… the majority of people do not seem to be empowered to practice their digital right to privacy and lawful consenting"
Researchers analyzed Dark Patterns in 240 apps and ran an experiment with 589 users on how they perceive Dark Patterns. They found 95% of the apps contained Dark Patterns and that most users do not recognize Dark Patterns unless informed beforehand.
An interesting counterpoint to the many stories of organisations making it hard for consumers to cancel their subscriptions. Here, Netflix does the opposite and automatically cancels premium subscriptions on inactive accounts.
This paper traces the origins of dark patterns, highlights contemporary issues, and describes where they might be heading in the future. It offers recommendations for designers to steer clear of these patterns.
Policy brief with suggestions for how to regulate dark patterns.
New consent management platforms (CMPs) have been introduced to the web to conform with the EU's General Data Protection Regulation, particularly its requirements for consent when companies collect and process users' personal data.
Business facing guidelines by the Dutch Consumers and Markets Authority showing what manipulative practices to avoid.
The Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce of the Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing entitled, “Americans at Risk: Manipulation and Deception in the Digital Age.” Witnesses included Monika Bickert, Joan Donovan, Ph.D., Tristan Harris and Justin (Gus) Hurwitz.
"Sludge" is an alternative term for Dark Patterns. In this paper, Cass Sunstein argues that institutions should conduct Sludge Audits to catalogue the costs of sludge, because it can hurt the most vulnerable members of society.
Researchers analyzed 300 data collection consent notices from news outlets to ensure compliance with GDPR. The analysis uncovered a variety of dark patterns that circumvent the intent of GDPR by design.
A study of dark patterns in cookie consent dialogues.
"We present automated techniques that enable experts to identify dark patterns on a large set of websites. Using these techniques, we study shopping websites, which often use dark patterns to influence users into making more purchases or disclosing more information than they would otherwise. Analyzing ∼53K product pages from ∼11K shopping websites, we discover 1,818 dark pattern instances, together representing 15 types and 7 broader categories. We examine these dark patterns for deceptive practices, and find 183 websites that engage in such practices."
Dark patterns, present across platforms and devices, work to undermine consumer choice and autonomy — but we currently have no framework for evaluating them. How might we evaluate these deceptive design interfaces to better support consumer empowerment?
Written by Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower Christopher Wylie, this book is a detailed account of the way modern marketing technologies were applied in targeted disinformation propaganda campaigns, including those that gave us Trump and Brexit.
This essay shows how cognitive biases and dark pattern are used to manipulate people into disclosing private information. It then explains how current law allows this to continue and proposes a new approach to reign in the phenomenon.
Tom Scott interviews Harry Brignull about Dark Patterns.
"We show that many services that claim compliance today do not have clear and concise privacy policies. We identify several points in the privacy policies which potentially indicate non-compliance; we term these GDPR vulnerabilities. We identify GDPR vulnerabilities in ten cloud services. Based on our analysis, we propose seven best practices for crafting GDPR privacy policies."
After an FTC workshop about the astronomical fees added on to most concert tickets, it is fairly clear that nothing is being done.
A well written introductory article about Dark Patterns. Also provides 10 guidelines for designers to help steer their company away from deceptive practices.
Researchers analyzed 1002 posts from the subreddit '/r/assholedesign' to identify the types of artifact being shared and the interaction purposes that were perceived to be manipulative or unethical.
"Web interfaces have become quite a character, haven’t they? Self-indulgent, impolite, disrespectful and obsessed with user’s data. In this series of articles, we’re looking into privacy UX patterns to make our interfaces better without leaving conversion considerations behind."
"...a subset of companies purposely make callers jump through hoops with the hope that they’ll simply give up. When this happens, the company saves money on redress costs." (Article summarising the paper "Why Customer Service Frustrates Consumers: Using a Tiered Organizational Structure to Exploit Hassle Costs")
Consumer Reports guide to spotting dark patterns.
From dark patterns to data protection: the influence of ux/ui design on user empowerment. This report highlights the ability to use UX as a "power tool" to establish a platform's position.
"Many Customer Service Organizations (CSOs) reflect a tiered, or multi-level, organizational structure, which we argue imposes hassle costs for dissatisfied customers seeking high levels of redress. [...] We argue that the tiered structure helps the firm to control redress costs..."
A measurement study of showing how the majority (90%) of social media influencers do not disclose their relationships with advertisers to their audience.
A serious book on the topic of technology and ethics, widely considered a "must read".
Researchers interviewed student UX designers while they carried out a design task. They found the designers had sensitivity towards user values, but often contradicted these values through dark intentions to persuade users, thereby achieving stakeholder goals.
This short paper described conversations on Twitter using the hashtag #darkpatterns. The authors found that UX practitioners were most likely to share tweets with this hashtag, and that a majority of tweets either mentioned an artifact or “shames” an organization that engages in manipulative UX practices.
Every day, Internet users interact with technologies designed to undermine their privacy. [...] In Privacy’s Blueprint, Woodrow Hartzog pushes back against this state of affairs, arguing that the law should require software and hardware makers to respect privacy in the design of their products."
Academic analysis of different forms of dark patterns.
"As designers and developers, we have an obligation to build experiences that are better than the norm. This article explains how unethical design happens, and how to do ethical design through a set of best practices.
You didn’t fill up the rental car with gas? Gotcha! Gas costs $7 a gallon here. Your bank balance fell to $999.99 for one day? Gotcha! That’ll be $12. You miss one payment on that 18-month same-as-cash loan? Gotcha! That’ll be $512 extra. You’re one day late on that electric bill? Gotcha! All your credit cards now have a 29.99% interest rate.
A detailed introductory textbook on dark patterns and how to avoid them.
"Cross-disciplinary convergences show the importance of strategic design in building online experiences which can speak volumes about your company and drive - or totally blow up - sales and brand reputation."
"We discuss some examples as well as the ethics behind implementing them and ask if “light patterns” exist. We talk about how dark patterns go beyond the web and into service design. Should we avoid using dark patterns in our designs? Well, we think yes – so in that case, how?"
Many Customer Service Organizations (CSOs) reflect a tiered, or multi-level, organizational structure, which we argue imposes hassle costs for dissatisfied customers seeking high levels of redress.
"It happens to the best of us. After looking closely at a bank statement or cable bill, suddenly a small, unrecognizable charge appears. Fine print sleuthing soon provides the answer—somehow, you accidentally signed up for a service. Whether it was an unnoticed pre-marked checkbox or an offhanded verbal agreement at the end of a long phone call, now a charge arrives each month because naturally the promotion has ended. If the possibility of a refund exists, it’ll be found at the end of 45 minutes of holding music or a week’s worth of angry e-mails."
Proxemic sensing devices are things like smart billboards that respond to the behaviour and characteristics of the people around them. In this research paper, the authors explore the risks of Dark Patterns in this new type of technology.
"While interest in proxemic interactions has increased over the last few years, it also has a dark side: knowledge of proxemics may (and likely will) be easily exploited to the detriment of the user. In this paper, we offer a critical perspective on proxemic interactions in the form of dark patterns: ways proxemic interactions can be misused."
Ever had a frustrating experience trying to find something on a website? You probably blamed yourself, but Harry Brignull says the real culprit is "dark patterns" - dirty tricks of web design.
"Approaching persuasive design from the dark side, this book melds psychology, marketing, and design concepts to show why we’re susceptible to certain persuasive techniques."
The authors develop the concept of dark design patterns in games, present examples of such patterns, explore some of the subtleties involved in identifying them, and provide questions that can be asked to help guide in the specification and identification of future Dark Patterns.
A series of articles exploring the psychology of persuasion online.
One of the original articles written about Dark Patterns in 2011.
The blog post that started it all - in which Harry Brignull introduces the concept of Dark Patterns and asks for input from the design community.
This paper provides a taxonomy of dark patterns (though they do not use the term) and an analysis of their impact on users. Analysis is based on primary research including a review of thousands of web sites and three surveys.
"The well-documented shortage of donated organs suggests that greater effort should be made to increase the number of individuals who decide to become potential donors. We examine the role of one factor: the no-action default for agreement. We first argue that such decisions are constructed in response to the question, and therefore influenced by the form of the question. We then describe research that shows that presumed consent increases agreement to be a donor, and compare countries with opt-in (explicit consent) and opt-out (presumed consent) defaults. Our analysis shows that opt-in countries have much higher rates of apparent agreement with donation, and a statistically significant higher rate of donations, even with appropriate statistical controls. We close by discussing the costs and benefits associated with both defaults as well as mandated choice.:
"The article discusses how should policy-makers choose defaults regarding organ donors. First, consider that every policy must have a no-action default, and defaults impose physical, cognitive, and, in the case of donation, emotional costs on those who must change their status. Second, note that defaults can lead to two kinds of misclassification, willing donors who are not identified or people who become donors against their wishes. Changes in defaults could increase donations in the United States of additional thousands of donors a year. Because each donor can be used for about three transplants, the consequences are substantial in lives saved."
"Differences in opt-in and opt-out responses are an important element of the current public debate concerning on-line privacy and more generally for permission marketing. We explored the issue empirically. Using two on-line experiments we show that the default has a major role in determining revealed preferences for further contact with a Web site. We then explore the origins of these differences showing that both framing and defaults have separate and additive effects in affecting the construction of preferences."