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Fighting dark patterns - regain your free will online

What's the future of online manipulation fight? We discuss it with Harry Brignull.

Ep. 9

Where are we currently in the fight against dark patterns?

What steps can be taken from different perspectives?

This includes understanding the root cause of the widespread online manipulation, as well as the tools and positive trends that can be used to fight it.


We discuss these issues with Harry Brignull, who coined the term "dark pattern" and has been exposing deceptive user interfaces since 2010. He manages the website deceptive.design (formerly darkpatterns.org) and has authored the first book on dark patterns.

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  • 10. How are businesses navigating the dark patterns maze?

    25:07
    In this episode of "Fair Patterns: Regain Your Free Will Online," Paavana Kumar, Partner at Davis + Gilbert, and Marie Potel-Saville, Founder of Amurabi & Fair Patterns, engage in a comprehensive discussion about dark patterns and deceptive online practices. Together, they explore the evolving regulatory landscape, focusing on the FTC's guidelines and enforcement actions. They discuss the negative option rule, proposed updates to streamline requirements for subscription programs, and practical steps businesses can take to avoid dark patterns and ensure compliance with regulations. The conversation also addresses the increasing pressure on companies to prioritize consumer well-being over short-term gains and the potential legal repercussions of failing to do so.Furthermore, Paavana and Marie discuss the broader implications of deceptive practices on society and the importance of ethical considerations in digital design and user experience. They emphasize the need for businesses to be transparent about their consumer transparency goals, conduct comprehensive audits of user experiences, and optimize cancellation mechanisms to create a seamless and hassle-free process for consumers.Overall, this episode provides valuable insights into the complexities of the dark patterns maze and offers actionable advice for businesses to navigate the landscape ethically and responsibly.
  • 8. Dark Patterns and Digital Freedom Today. A conversation with Cindy Cohn.

    26:17
    How are dark patterns and deceptive practices impacting fundamental rights such as freedom and privacy? The raise of Ai is exacerbating transparency issues and the potential for AI-powered dark patterns, highlighting the the importance of informed decision-making and the need for individuals to have the ability to enforce their rights.To understand more about it, Marie Potel-Seville sits with Cindy Cohn, Executive Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). From 2000-2015 she served as EFF’s Legal Director as well as its General Counsel. Ms. Cohn first became involved with EFF in 1993, when EFF asked her to serve as the outside lead attorney in Bernstein v. Dept. of Justice, the successful First Amendment challenge to the U.S. export restrictions on cryptography.To go further:EFF Podcast:https://feeds.eff.org/howtofixtheinternetHave a question or need some support? Visit us at fairpatterns.com and follow us on LinkedIn: FairPatterns!
  • 7. How regulators are tackling dark patterns? Discussion with Dries Cuijpers.

    39:38
    In early 2023, the European Commission and national consumer protection authorities (the “CPC network”) screened 399 online shops. They only focused on 3 specific types of dark patterns: fake countdown timers; interfaces designed to lead consumers to purchases or subscriptions; and hidden information. Even on such a narrow basis, their investigation showed that 148 sites contained at least one of these three dark patterns. The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) also conducted a sweep in 2023, during which they automatically detected a specific type of dark pattern: countdown timers. Results showed dozens of infringements, just on this one type of deceptive design. In today’s episod, Marie Potel speaks with Dries Cuijpers, Senior Enforcement Official and coordinator of the Digital Economy at the Consumer Division of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets. Dries has 20 years of experience as an enforcement official in numerous economic sectors. He set up ACM’s Behavioural Insights Team and managed the team for the first 5 years, he has worked for the OECD on consumer policy and he is a co-author of ACM’s Guidelines on the Protection of the Online Consumer.What type of harms are caused by dark patterns, from a regulator point of view? How is the Dutch authority tackling this issue? What’s the future of regulation on deception and manipulation around the world? Let’s talk about it here and now!To go further : ACM confronts online stores using misleading countdown timers with their practices Have a question or need some support? Visit us at fairpatterns.com and follow us on LinkedIn: FairPatterns!
  • 6. How might we create a common language on dark patterns? Discussion with Colin Gray.

    37:37
    Dark patterns go against most UX design principles, yet they are pretty much everywhere. So how is this huge prevalence explained? What is missing in UX designer training to avoid deceptive designs? Is the regulation sufficient to deter companies from using dark patterns? How might we create a common language and hierarchy of dark patterns that aligns differing terminology from scholars and regulators? To discuss the topic, Marie Potel speaks with Colin Gray, Associate Professor at the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering at Indiana University Bloomington and Director of the human computer interaction design program. To go further:"Towards a preliminary ontology of dark patterns knowledge", by Colin Gray, Cristina Santos, Nataliia BielovaHave a question or need some support? Visit us at fairpatterns.com and follow us on LinkedIn: FairPatterns!
  • 5. Are dark patterns profitable from an economic standpoint? Discussion with Anastasia Shchepetova and Lirio Barros.

    35:25
    Traditional economics assumes that as humans, we use all available information, and we process all this information in a purely rational way in order to make an optimal decision. But studies show that in reality, there are serious limits to anyone's ability to process information. Behavioral economics calls these limits « bounded rationality ».Because of these cognitive limitations, the way in which information or choices are presented can have a significant impact on the decisions that individuals make.How behavioral economics can be used by policymakers to design “choice architectures” such that people are promoted to make better decisions? What can economics teach us about how dark patterns work? What are the incentives to switch from dark to fair patterns, from a sheer economic point of view?In this episode, we dive into the economics behind dark patterns with Marie Potel and her guests, Anastasia Shchepetova and Lirio Barros, both consultants in economics and finance at Oxera.To go further : Federal Trade Commission complaint against Amazon.com“Nudge : improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness” by Richard Thaler & Cass Sustein (2009) Have a question or need some support? Visit us at fairpatterns.com and follow us on LinkedIn FairPatterns!
  • 4. Dark patterns in digital marketing. Discussion with Raashee Gupta Erry.

    25:30
    Some people might consider that marketing is some form of manipulation, making it almost impossible for a marketer to do their job without tricking users in one way or another. But in reality, marketers are asked to build experiences that drive trust, conversion, and long-term customer relationships. How can marketers benefit from fighting dark patterns in their daily job, and what do they have to keep in mind to gain user trust? These are the topics discussed in today’s episode with Marie Potel and her guest Raashee Gupta Erry, senior expert in marketing advertising and consumer privacy. 🎧 You heard: An extract of CNBC’s Aaron Ross Sorkin interview of Lina Khan, FTC commissioner, on antitrust regulation and data privacy 💡 To go further: Dark commercial patterns, OECD digital economy papers, oct. 2022, n°336Americans can’t consent to companies’ use of their data, a report from the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, feb. 2023Federal Trade Commission Staff report « Bringing dark patterns to light », sept. 2022 Have a question or need some support? Go to fairpatterns.com or contact Marie Potel on LinkedIn!
  • 3. Are dark patterns illicit? Discussion with Gabriel Voisin and Alexandre Vuchot.

    29:05
    ✅ Is there one single legal definition of dark patterns?✅ What are the legal risks incurred by companies from the consumer law and the data protection point of views?✅ What is really changing with the digital service act (DSA), the first regulation that explicitly prohibits dark patterns per se?To answer these questions, Marie Potel welcomes Gabriel Voisin and Alexandre Vuchot, partners at Bird & Bird specializing respectively in data protection, cyber security & privacy, and consumer law.You will also hear an extract of Tristan Harris talking about technological deception in the social media age in front of the US congress on January 8, 2020. To go further: Fair patterns 2 mn sanity checkEvolution of the legislation policing dark patternsOnline Choice Architecture : how digital design can harm competition and consumers, from Competition and Market Authority, April 5, 2022Italian Data Protection Authority's decision mentioning Dark Patterns, February 23, 20235Rights Foundation Contribution to the Global Digital Compact, April 2023Have a question or a need for support? Go to fairpatterns.com or contact Marie on LinkedIn!
  • 2. What are dark patterns in privacy? Discussion with Ariana Rossi.

    30:59
    Marie Potel welcomes Arianna Rossi to talk about the criteria based on which dark patterns can be identified. Arianna works in the research institute of the University of Luxembourg, at the interdisciplinary center for security, reliability and trust. Her research is at the intersection of privacy, tech and law.Together, they tackle the question of the definition of this very varied phenomenon that is “dark patterns”, and the need to create actionable guidelines to trigger awareness for all stakeholders (legal professionals, but also marketers, designers …).In this episode, you will also hear an extract of Harry Brignull’ presentation on Dark Patterns at the UX Brighton conference.A question or a need for support? Go to fairpatterns.com or contact Marie Potel on LinkedIn!