Article by Sara Morrison: “If you’re an Instagram user, you may have recently seen a pop-up asking if you want the service to “use your app and website activity” to “provide a better ads experience.” At the bottom there are two boxes: In a slightly darker shade of black than the pop-up background, you can choose to “Make ads less personalized.” A bright blue box urges users to “Make ads more personalized.”
This is an example of a dark pattern: design that manipulates or heavily influences users to make certain choices. Instagram uses terms like “activity” and “personalized” instead of “tracking” and “targeting,” so the user may not realize what they’re actually giving the app permission to do. Most people don’t want Instagram and its parent company, Facebook, to know everything they do and everywhere they go. But a “better experience” sounds like a good thing, so Instagram makes the option it wants users to select more prominent and attractive than the one it hopes they’ll avoid.
There’s now a growing movement to ban dark patterns, and that may well lead to consumer protection laws and action as the Biden administration’s technology policies and initiatives take shape. California is currently tackling dark patterns in its evolving privacy laws, and Washington state’s latest privacy bill includes a provision about dark patterns.
“When you look at the way dark patterns are employed across digital engagement, generally, [the internet allows them to be] substantially exacerbated and made less visible to consumers,” Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, acting chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), told Recode. “Understanding the effect of that is really important to us as we craft our strategy for the digital economy.”
Dark patterns have for years been tricking internet users into giving up their data, money, and time. But if some advocates and regulators get their way, they may not be able to do that for much longer…(More)”.