Forced action

The user wants to do something, but they are required to do something else undesirable in return.


Forced action involves a provider offering users something they want - but requiring them to do something in return. It may be combined with other deceptive patterns like sneaking (so users don't notice it happening) or trick wording (to make the action seem more desirable than it is). Sometimes an optional action is presented as a forced action, through the use of visual interference or trick wording. In cookie consent interfaces, forced action is sometimes carried out through "bundled consent". This involves combining multiple agreements into a single action, and making it hard or impossible for a user to selectively grant consent.


In 2015, LinkedIn used forced action as part of their website registration process. In one of the steps, users were shown a harmless looking page titled "Get stated by adding your email address". Below this was a text field for their email address, and a prominent "Continue" button. This appeared to be mandatory, and users most likely felt it was harmless as almost all websites require an email address during registration. However, the true function of this was to access the user's email inbox and extract all of the email addresses it could find. Although the page did provide a description of this function, the text was grey on a blue background, making it relatively low contrast and hard to notice, and the textual content did not clearly state the consequences. Although the user could reject the request to continue, this was also unclear. The "skip this step" link was relatively small and hard to notice, positioned at the bottom right. Dan Schlosser provides further details in his article Linkedin Dark Patterns.


Forced disclosure (Brignull, 2010), privacy zuckering (Brignull, 2010), friend spam (Brignull, 2010), forced registration (Bösch et al, 2016), forced action (Gray et al., 2018), forced enrollment (Mathur et al., 2019).

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