Tip line: Submit the ‘dark patterns’ you see online

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A new tip line allows people to submit examples of dark patterns online. Here’s what that means.

Many companies routinely rely on design features to deceive, force, or manipulate us online. You ask us to sync our contact list or allow cookie tracking while hiding options that would allow us to refuse; They convince us to buy things by offering a product as limited or “only for a limited time” when it is not; they sign us up for subscription services and then make it extremely difficult for us to unsubscribe. All of these are examples of so-called “dark patterns” – user interface designs that online companies benefit from at our expense.

To better understand the universe of dark patterns, Stanford University Laboratory for digital civil society (DCSL) is now hosting the Top line. Lucy Bernholz, the director of DCSL, and Jennifer King, Privacy and Data Policy Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, are coordinating the project.

Here King describes the increased use of dark patterns, plans for that Top line, and their hopes for future regulation of dark patterns:

Source: Katharine Miller for Stanford University


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