There's this really big and expensive problem that's happening right now: dark patterns. Dark patterns are manipulative, often deceptive strategies that retailers and marketers use. Like you know when you think you're signing up for a one month trial subscription to something and then you somehow, mysteriously, found out that you'd been signed up for a year? That is a dark pattern.
And, dark patterns are becoming more and more widespread. Because of the pandemic, ecommerce sales last year grew by more than 40%. More than $850 billion dollars annually. And because online retailers deal with so many customers at a time, making one tiny change — a dark pattern, can double or even triple the likelihood of someone signing up for a service.
On The Indicator from Planet Money, we peel the curtain back on the internet and take a look at some of the most manipulative and sneaky online marketing strategies around dark patterns.
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is looking into this issue and wants to hear from consumers. Here is the form where you can send those comments. The deadline for comment is May 29th, 2021.
Harry Brignull, the UX specialist who first coined the term "dark patterns", has a website with information about types of dark patterns and additional reading.