The only way to avoid falling prey to dark pattern tactics is to know what they are.
Episode #12-50 released on August 28, 2022
This is a term often used in stories to explain activities that corporations would engage in, in far off futures, like the TV show continuum, games like Cyberpunk 2077, and many other futuristic stories. What if I told you, that future is happening now, and you are currently victim to dark patterns and behaviors by companies?
Dark patterns are behaviors taken by companies that may have a seemingly positive reasoning behind them but are usually driven by a desire to generate revenue directly or indirectly. Indirect revenue generation is often done by collecting personal information, the more precise it is, the more valuable it is.
The first dark pattern I want you start seeing is personalized advertisements. You have seen on many platforms a request to provide you with personalized advertisements, however, this can only be done by collecting more data. Whenever they are asking to personalize your advertisements, they want to collect more information about you.
A second dark pattern to be wary of, abandoned shopping cart notifications, wish lists, and by later lists. There may be a reason why you did not buy something today, and some companies will gladly remind you that the product is still in your shopping cart. Shopping used to be something stored entirely in the browser, but now you can start filling a shopping cart on your laptop and finish it on your phone. Some services like Amazon allow you to save various items for later, and you can even make wish lists. Overall, not a bad idea, until they start reminding you every few days that you still have items in your shopping cart or to be purchased later.
Pop up advertising, where you cannot close the window easily, have to wait for a timer, or blocks all content because you blocked advertisements on the website. Companies are constantly trying to monetize their content, which is fair, but the methods are extremely intrusive and forceful in many cases, demanding your information, or else.
Anything to do with timers, is also a dark pattern. Creating a fake sense of urgency does push many people to buying products they would gladly buy at a different time or consider the pros of cons in normal circumstances. Generating a timer forces the person, you, to decide immediately, and you are less likely to say no, than if you were given time.
And everything to do with needing to register for an account to use a service. While, some websites, including my own, do not sell any information used to register with, the grand majority of companies do. Companies sell your personal information used in during the registration process, and all other information obtained thereafter, including your ISP, to continue to make a profit from you, whether the service is paid for, or free of charge.
Another subtle example of dark pattern marketing is the free trial or low-cost trial. If any company offers a low-cost or free trial, and the process of being subscribed is automatic, then this is a dark pattern business tactic because it falls on you to cancel the transaction before it happens, instead of the company asking if you are interested in continuing the service with them.
And there are plenty more ways that companies exploit our emotions against us to gain valuable intel and increase revenue, and it falls on us to start recognizing all of those tricks that they use to exploit us.
Host : Steve Smith | Music : | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Dot Net