Consumer’s Reader: What are Dark Patterns and Why Do We Need to Know About Them - Part 2

In the first part of this post, we demonstrated how everyone encounters dark patterns because they have become part of the normal functioning of most platforms and sites, and we have defined them. We will now answer why we should talk about them, when we are so used to their application.

Why talk about dark patterns?

The purpose of this publication is to raise the awareness of consumers about dark patterns. Although the consumer protection law in Bulgaria regulates consumer rights against unfair commercial practices, dark patterns are still not sufficiently covered by EU law and the issue is still under discussion. So, the salvation from dark patterns is in the hands of the users themselves. ADR could help to some extent if the consumer is dealing with a bona fide trader, but in general the latter has no incentive to negotiate such things, which are a common dubious practice. So, it is best for all of us to be informed and to know what to look out for and how to defend ourselves.

Dark patters are still being studied by behavioral psychologists, and there is still debate over whether there should be legal regulation specifically targeted at them. It turns out that it is not so easy to cut off their definition with a knife, leave alone to be regulated, because they are diverse and act in different ways. Dark patters affect many areas of the legal world, it is not yet known exactly how much damage they cause to consumers, not only material but also psychological damage.

One thing is for sure, these are unethical, in many cases immoral, practices, precisely because they trick consumers into doing something they did not intend to do, as the definition puts it.

However, some sort of taxonomy and grouping has been created so that the necessary research can be carried out.

There are 4 main points of view that allow to define and categorize them.

The first point of view is related to the user interface itself. It can be misleading, deceptive and even coercive.

The second examines the mechanism by which consumers are influenced. Some scientists believe that dark practices undermine the intentions of consumers, others that they deceive them, that they undermine the autonomous thinking, manipulate, exploit, even attack the user.

The third point is the role of the interface designer. It is believed that designers deliberately and intentionally develop dark patters to achieve their goals, that they use persuasive mechanisms on consumers to influence them.

The fourth aspect is the benefits and harms of UX design, but here we are talking about the benefits of the online service, not the user and of course the harm that is done to him.


In the next, third part of the post, we will comment on the harm of dark patterns. Follow it in the News of



Published on 08.03.2022 Back to news