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Learn about dark patterns, fair patterns and much more

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.

Vibhav Singh, Niraj Kumar Vishvakarma and Vinod Kumar

This study identifies and models the key enablers driving the use of dark patterns in e-commerce companies, employing Total Interpretive Structural Modeling (TISM) and MICMAC analysis. Findings highlight that partial human control over cognitive biases, market competition pressures, and emotional triggers are the primary enablers, whereas long-term economic goals show limited influence. The research offers valuable insights for business managers to counteract dark patterns and for legal agencies to develop strategies against them, filling a crucial gap in existing literature.
The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) prohibits false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices in trade or commerce. It also prohibits advertising goods or services without the intent to sell them as advertised and failing to disclose information that would have influenced the consumer's decision to enter into a transaction.

The Digital Services Act (DSA) is a legislation in the EU that applies to all digital service providers. It prohibits the use of dark patterns to deceive or bias users and requires platforms used by minors to have high levels of privacy and security. The DSA also prohibits designing online interfaces to manipulate or impair users' decision-making.
Senate Bill S.289, introduced in Vermont on January 17, 2024, aims to create an age-appropriate design code. The bill applies to entities that collect personal data, operate within Vermont, and meet certain thresholds related to revenue or data collection. The bill mandates processing children's data in their best interest, conducting a Data Protection Impact Assessment for online services accessed by children, and using clear language suited to the age of children. Moreover, it prohibits profiling children by default, unnecessary processing of precise geolocation data, and the use of dark patterns to obtain excessive personal data. If enacted, the bill would take effect on July 1, 2024.
On April 7th, 2024, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Senator Maria Cantwell introduced the American Privacy Rights Act, marking the first bipartisan effort to establish a comprehensive data privacy law in the United States. This legislation surpasses existing protections for medical and children's data nationwide. It would grant Americans rights such as opting out of targeted advertising and algorithmic decision-making, minimizing personal data retained by companies, and requesting access to, corrections, or deletions of their data. Companies would need explicit consent to share sensitive personal data and would face prohibitions against using dark patterns. Enforcement would be overseen by the Federal Trade Commission, with the option for private lawsuits by affected individuals.

Weichen Joe Chang, Katie Seaborn and Andrew A. Adams

Dark patterns (DPs) in user interfaces deceive users into unintended actions. Despite significant research over the past two decades, there remain gaps in theoretical understanding. A review of 51 papers from 2014 to 2023 highlights the need for stronger theoretical integration in DP studies and advocates for broad foundational frameworks to guide future research.

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. 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.

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