The seven deadly sins of the 2010s: No, not pride, sloth, etc. The seven UI 'dark patterns' that trick you into buying stuff

www.theregister.co.uk | 6/26/2019 | Staff
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Dark patterns – user interfaces designed to deviously manipulate people into doing things – have become common enough on websites and in apps that almost two dozen providers have sprung up to supply behavior persuasion as a service.

And in some cases, these firms openly advertise deceptive marketing techniques, describing ways to generate fake product orders and social messages celebrating those fake orders.

Finding - Computer - Science - Boffins - Arunesh

This finding is one of several from seven computer science boffins – Arunesh Mathur, Gunes Acar, Michael Friedman, Elena Lucherini, Jonathan Mayer, Marshini Chetty, and Arvind Narayanan – all from Princeton University in the USA, except for Chetty, who hails from the University of Chicago.

On Tuesday, the meticulous seven published a draft research paper, Dark Patterns at Scale: Findings from a Crawl of 11K Shopping Websites, that explores the prevalence of interface-driven influencing techniques.

Third-parties - Patterns - Service - Arvind - Narayanan

"We found 22 third-parties that offer 'dark patterns as a service,'" said Arvind Narayanan, a professor at Princeton. "The psychology research behind nudges has been weaponized."

The researchers analyzed the top 11,000 websites, as ranked by Amazon's Alexa service, using a custom crawler that visits e-commerce sites and completes the click flow to purchase products, then saves the interfaces encountered and interactions for analysis.

Boffins - Dark - Patterns - Types - Shopping

The boffins found 1,841 dark patterns, representing 15 distinct types, on 1,267 of those 11,000 shopping websites – that represents about 11.2 per cent of the data set. And they propose seven categories for such user-interface tricks:

Sneaking

Actions - Information - Users

Attempting to misrepresent user actions, or delay information that if made available to users, they would likely object to.

Urgency

Deadline - Sale

Imposing a deadline on a sale or...
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