Dark patterns: Here to stay or not going away?

Are confusing privacy dialogues, like this headline, really the future for online services? What is the way forward for businesses and will proposed regulation actually work? Tom Cooper reports.

Dark patterns(1) proliferate on the Internet, from hard to leave subscriptions to unfathomable double negatives. Is this the inevitable result of a “race to the bottom” in privacy driven by competitive pressures? Or are these practices as bad for business as they are consumers? These were some of the questions addressed at a recent PL&B webinar ‘Shining the light on dark patterns’.(2)

A useful working definition of dark patterns is: “User interface design choices that benefit an online service by coercing, manipulating or deceiving users into making unintended and potentially harmful decisions.”(3) Dr Jennifer King, Privacy and Data Policy Fellow, Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, chose this definition as she opened the online ­discussion.

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