Dark Patterns: Subscription Traps, Fake Links, Hidden Costs And Other Tricks

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Dark Patterns: Subscription Traps, Fake Links, Hidden Costs And Other Tricks
Dark Patterns: Subscription Traps, Fake Links, Hidden Costs And Other Tricks

Video: Dark Patterns: Subscription Traps, Fake Links, Hidden Costs And Other Tricks

Video: Dark Patterns: Subscription Traps, Fake Links, Hidden Costs And Other Tricks
Video: Virtual Workshop: Dark Patterns 2023, September

"Dark Patterns" is a collective term. It includes many different sneaky ways to get a website user to do something that is detrimental to them. For example, most will be familiar with the "Disguised Ads" method. An advertisement is camouflaged as part of the page, i.e. download buttons that lead somewhere else.

As part of the "GDPR", website visitors must be informed about cookies. There must also be a possibility of rejection. Now some reputable sites have such a window, in which you can flip the switches for the individual cookies and save the rejection, but one thing is striking: in such windows, the rejection buttons are almost always barely readable, while the "Agree to everything" button jumps straight into the eye. If you activate the buttons to deactivate cookies, they often look as if you have only activated them. This is also “dark pattern”.


An example of dark pattern design:

At Allianz, the button to accept all cookies is clearly visible. The alternative is much less noticeable. The unwanted cookies are already actively preset and must be rejected individually. On the start page you will be greeted by the clearly visible button "Accept cookies". The link to decline is less prominent.

But other methods are really criminal:

  • Still harmless - but absolutely illegal for us - are, for example, the checkmarks set in advance for accepting the newsletter in competition forms.
  • Phishing is a dangerous “dark pattern”. Well-fake emails and websites are presented to you, which should, for example, get you to enter your registration or bank details.
  • In some shops, unwanted items jump into the shopping cart that have not been selected at all. Or a more expensive shipping method is selected. This is called "sneak into basket".
  • "Hidden Costs" is a "dark pattern" in which costs suddenly appear during the purchase process that were not previously shown. About additional packaging costs, taxes, express delivery …
  • Some sites absolutely want to sell a premium account. There are a number of ways you can easily choose something like this, but deselecting is almost impossible. This method is called " Roach Motel ". One method used is, for example, that the more expensive variant is always in the order form, while you have to tick a box to do without it and to get the free offer.
  • Microsoft initially disguised the switch to Windows 10 as a normal update. If you closed the update window, you agreed to the installation. This method is called "bait and switch".

Many other methods aim to get information from you that you don't really want to give and that are completely unnecessary for registration, for example. Or other “dark patterns” are supposed to make you publicly show much more of you than you actually intended. This method is also called "Privacy Sugaring" after the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The data protection settings are well hidden and are set by default so that you perform a complete data striptease.


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This is how you protect yourself from a dark pattern design

A large number of Internet users do not fall for “dark patterns”. They are primarily aimed at inexperienced computer users who have not had bad experiences with the tricks of the scammers.

The best protection against dark pattern websites is distrust. No matter how serious a company is, they always want something. They want to sell, they want to hide, they want their own advantage. Facebook is free because the company sells advertising and also deals with your data. You can't prevent that without getting out of Facebook.

And then there is the large army of crooks who deliberately misuse these tricks. Who maneuver you in subscription cases, steal your data and still want to read your contacts to send spam on your behalf to your friends.

Only attention and careful clicking will help here! If you are over a download button that looks very different from the normal buttons, avoid the click. Before you send an order, check every marked item on it. If shipping is suddenly no longer free or other items appear there, delete them or cancel the purchase.

Online security and privacy: important or not? (Survey)

In the past few months, the topic of online security and privacy has become increasingly important. We would therefore like to find out how you feel about the whole thing.

did you like this article? Let us know in the comments or share the article. We look forward to your opinion - and of course you are welcome to follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Marco Kratzenberg
Marco Kratzenberg

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