How Dark Patterns Trick People On the Internet Without Them Realizing

Dark patterns are seen throughout the internet and most of the time you just don’t realize that these Dark patterns are working in the backgrounds to manipulate your behavior. If you do not know what dark patterns are, allow us to make you understand.

Dark patterns are kinds of hacks, designs or options on the different platforms and apps which are made to manipulate or heavily influence users and encourage them to make certain choices which will be in the favor of the said company or the websites and you do it without even realizing it sometimes. The term dark pattern was made by a man called Harry Brignull in 2010 who has been keeping a track of all the dark patterns and activity since then. It was revealed that the dark patterns have existed long before the existence of the internet with previously with the mail-order music club Columbia House’s amazing deal to buy 12 CDs for just one penny (plus shipping and handling), which then automatically opted them in to a CD-a-month club that was almost impossible to cancel as an example but with the power and the wider availability of the internet such patterns have become more common and powerful.

There are so many examples of dark patterns on the internet like the trial streaming services which asks for your bank accounts when you sign up for a free month trial will automatically charge you once the trial is over. Ads on the applications or websites will appear covering the entire screen but the “X” to remove them will be so small and faint in the corner that sometimes it can be missed by the users or the “X” is so small that you accidentally click on the ad itself and are redirected to the ad’s websites.


These are some basic everyday examples of how you experience dark patterns on the internet.

While these may be small examples, do you know large tech giants manipulate you into these patterns as well?

Instagram which is a renowned application walks on this path too. You must have at some point in your Instagram using activity received a pop up asking if you want the service to “use your app and website activity” to “provide a better ads experience.” This basically means the app wants to track and transfer your data in order to link you up with the ads of preference and this is one the biggest sources of revenue collection for the applications. Along with this pop up you are given two options one in a black column which is a shade darker than its background reading “Make ads less personalized” and a blue box reading “Make ads more personalized.” The blue color is vibrant than the black one and will be immediately catchy to the user’s eye. Apart from this Instagram uses words like “activity” and “personalized” instead of “tracking” and “targeting” to convince users in accepting their tracking requests without them realizing what it is all about. This is what dark patterns are all about.


But people are now realizing what is happening over the internet and in response to these dark patterns ban movements are being addressed that may well lead to consumer protection laws and action. The Biden administration has taken policies related to this under consideration with California tackling dark patterns in its changing policies and Washington D.C. latest privacy bills having a provision about dark patterns.

Dark patterns online have been fooling people for very long now and making them give up their time data and money but if things go in favor of advocates and regulators wanting to ban this type of patterns on the internet it will not be long before the websites and companies will not be able to fool people for much longer.

H/T: Vox Media.

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