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Willing to dig further on dark patterns? Here are curated resources, including hundreds of publications we analyzed in our R&D Lab, conferences, webinars and job opportunities to fight dark patterns.

Commission influencer social media “sweep” investigation

The EU Commission and consumer protection authorities screened social media posts from 576 influencers to verify compliance with EU consumer law regarding advertising disclosure. Findings revealed that while 97% posted commercial content, only 20% consistently disclosed it as advertising. Other findings included 30% of influencers not providing any company details on their posts, and 38% not using platform labels that serve to disclose commercial content. The sweep resulted in 358 influencers being earmarked for further investigation. The Commission will also analyze the results of the sweep in light of the legal obligations of the platforms under the Digital Services Act (DSA) and take necessary enforcement action where appropriate.
The FTC is taking action against H&R Block for deceptive marketing and unfair practices, including deleting consumer tax data and misleadingly promoting their products as “free.” The company's practices allegedly led consumers into higher-cost products and presented challenges when attempting to downgrade, costing consumers time and money. H&R Block also allegedly engaged in deceptive advertising, marketing its services as “free” when many consumers were not eligible for the free products.

EU Commission Fines Apple for music streaming rules

The EU Commission fined Apple over €1.8 billion for abusing its dominant position in the distribution of music streaming apps to iOS users through its App Store. Apple's restrictions on app developers, which prevented them from informing users about alternative, cheaper music subscription services, were deemed illegal under EU antitrust rules. This lack of consumer choice and comparison led to increased prices and violated the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
Amazon.com Inc. is being sued by an investor for allegedly using dark patterns to trick users into signing up for Prime subscriptions. The investor is seeking internal documents to investigate claims that Amazon's corporate leaders continued to use a misleading Prime enrollment process, knowing it led consumers to sign up for unwanted recurring bills.

UFC-Que choisir v. META

Following European court rulings, Meta has begun seeking explicit consent from consumers to process their data for advertising purposes. However, consumer association UFC-Que choisir has claimed that Meta's "Pay or Okay policy" does not meet the requirements of informed consent under Article 7 GDPR, as it does not specify the precise purpose of each type of data processing. The association also alleges that Meta obscures the extent of its data processing and tracking practices through ambiguous language.

Amazon fined in Poland for dark patterns

On the 27th of March 2024, Amazon was fined nearly $8 million by Poland's consumer protection authority for misleading consumers about sales contracts and using dark patterns to create a false sense of urgency around product availability and delivery dates. The investigation found that Amazon did not clearly communicate that the moment of purchase was not the conclusion of a sales contract, used suggestive messaging on sales buttons, presented misleading information about product availability and delivery windows, and failed to inform consumers about the rules of its delivery guarantee before they placed orders.
On August 31, 2023, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) initiated legal proceedings against Qantas Airways for alleged false, misleading, or deceptive conduct. The airline is accused of advertising over 8,000 flights that had already been cancelled and failing to inform ticketholders of the cancellations in a timely manner. The ACCC is seeking penalties, injunctions, declarations, and costs.
On the 7th of September 2023, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) filed a lawsuit against eHarmony, accusing the dating site of violating Australian Consumer Law through the use of dark patterns. The allegations include misleading customers about the automatic renewal and pricing of premium memberships, misrepresenting its free basic membership, not accurately displaying minimum and total prices, and misleading consumers about their ability to cancel subscriptions. The ACCC is seeking penalties, declarations, injunctions, consumer redress, costs, and other orders.

ACCC v. META

On July 26, 2023, the Australian Federal Court ruled that Facebook Israel and Onavo Inc, subsidiaries of Meta, must each pay $10 million for misleading conduct under Australian Consumer Law. The companies failed to adequately disclose that user data from the Onavo Protect app would be used for Meta's commercial interests and falsely suggested that the app would safeguard users' data with statements like "Use a free, fast and secure VPN to protect personal information" and "Helps Keep You and Your Data Safe."
A class action lawsuit was filed against Match Group, the company behind Tinder and Hinge, on February 14th, 2024. The lawsuit alleges that Match Group intentionally designed these dating apps to be addictive, using undisclosed features to keep users engaged in a pay-to-play cycle. The company is also accused of using a secret algorithm to encourage compulsive use and subscription purchases, while misrepresenting the design and making false promises to consumers.

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