Dark Patterns

Dark Patterns are tricks used in websites and apps that make you buy or sign up for things that you didn’t mean to. Fresh Legislation is beginning to target this deceptive, Privacy-Shredding practice of Interface Design.

In the web world, usability refers to the practice of designing easy-to-use user interfaces.But what if designers don’t have a user’s best interests at heart, but instead want to trick them? That’s the shadowy push behind dark patterns, which information security veteran Wendy Nather defines as being “the abuse of what we have been conditioned to understand as being user interface rules.”

Tactics include “bait and switch” prompts where a user clicks one thing, only to have the unexpected happen – such as clicking an “X” to close a Microsoft prompt, only to have that result in the installation of Windows 10, she said. Misdirection is another common ploy, involving design that focuses users on a big, bold option, while making it difficult to see other options that might be more in line with what a user actually wants to do.

Senators Target Malicious Design
Now, efforts are afoot to banish dark patterns, which at their best trick users into doing things they wouldn’t normally do, and at their worst can compromise the security of their personal data as well as their privacy.

On Tuesday, U.S. senators Mark Warner, D-Va., and Deb Fischer, R-Neb., introduced legislation called the Deceptive Experiences To Online Users Reduction Act.

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