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Deceitful Design: Most Online Services Use ‘Dark Patterns’ to Rip You Off


EXPOSED: The Insidious Ways Companies Manipulate You into Spending Money You Don’t Want to Spend

A recent study by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has revealed the shocking extent to which companies are using "dark patterns" to exploit consumers. These manipulative design techniques, which are often used on subscription-based websites and apps, can trick users into giving away their personal information or shelling out money they don’t want to spend.

The Devil’s in the Details

The study, which analyzed 642 websites and apps offering subscription services, found that a whopping 76% of them used at least one dark pattern, while 67% used multiple techniques to deceive and dupe consumers. And it’s not just subscription services that are guilty of these underhanded tactics – many other industries, from e-commerce to children’s apps, are also guilty of using dark patterns to manipulate consumers.

The Techniques Used

The report identified several types of dark patterns, including "sneaking" (making it difficult to cancel subscriptions), "obstruction" (making it hard to take certain actions), "nagging" (repeatedly asking consumers to take a specific action), and "forced action" (requiring consumers to provide sensitive information to access certain features).

But it’s not just these overtly manipulative tactics that are cause for concern – the report also highlights more insidious techniques, such as "social proof" (using metrics to influence consumers) and "interface interference" (designing interfaces to nudge consumers towards making certain decisions).

The Impact

The use of dark patterns has serious consequences for consumers. By using these tactics, companies can effectively steal your personal information, trick you into spending money, and even exploit your psychological vulnerabilities.

The Regulators Respond

In response to these findings, the FTC has announced plans to crack down on companies that use dark patterns to manipulate consumers. But it’s not just the FTC – many other regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Department of Justice, are also taking action to hold companies accountable for their manipulative tactics.

The Verdict

The use of dark patterns is a serious problem that requires a serious response. Consumers have a right to be protected from these manipulative tactics, and it’s up to regulators and companies to ensure that our online experiences are fair and transparent.



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