The Dark Patterns of Design

A good user interface design offers ease of use and a streamlined online experience, but some of your favorite websites have deceptive ploys built in to get you to do things you never intended to do. Are you an avid online shopper? Many e-commerce sites use cunning manipulation to get you to buy something you don’t want or need.

You might be greeted by a digital guilt trip when you click “no” on an “exclusive offer” or end up with a product in your shopping cart that you never selected. Is your email inbox overflowing with spam emails and newsletters to which you never subscribed? Little did you know, when you clicked a random button or bought a product, you were automatically put on the mailing list.

It’s right there in the privacy agreement that takes roughly 18 minutes to read. Attempting to opt-out of spam emails only adds to your frustration as you hunt for a minuscule unsubscribe button that takes eight tries to push successfully. Facebook users who try to disable their facial recognition can expect to be bombarded with the positive aspects of the software without any mention that it will also be used for targeted advertising.

In this episode, Manal al-Sharif and Reinhardt Sosin dissect the dark patterns of user interface design. From color interpretation to “Bait and Switch,” they cover several of the cheapest tricks deployed by online giants to influence your decisions. Join Manal and Reinhardt as they expose some of these con artists.

Welcome to episode 3 of the Tech4Evil Podcast: The Dark Patterns of Design.

Tech4Evil Podcast Cover Big Tech Big Data Big Brother
The Dark Side of Targeted Advertising
We want to hear from you. Tune in, and tell us what you think. Email us at Follow us on Twitter: @tech4evil. And if you've spotted Big Tech going too far, use the hashtag #EvilSpotter and mention @Tech4Evil and share your story.

Music and media production by Reinhardt Sosin. Research and content by Manal al-Sharif.

Sources for this episode include, Fast Company, Wonderopolis, TechCrunch, The Verge, the company blog of Pixelworm, Wired, the UX Collective a Medium article by Patricia Estevão titled “The Dark Side of UX Design: Part 2,” “Deceived by Design” by Forbrukerrådet, the International Association of Privacy Professionals, and the National Law Review. 

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1 comment on “The Dark Patterns of Design

  1. David Ball says:

    I want to name and shame
    MusikDR charged me monthly for a year $US49.95 .. I did not know I was signed up. I could not leave until I tracked them down. They claim they would refund my last month, but did not.
    UnionsRSL I’ve unsubscribed and they continue plaguing me with emails.

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