Dark Patterns

Websites on the internet are constantly trying to get you to complete actions. Whether it's buying something, reccomending a friend or posting private information, there is a lot of value in getting you to perform specific actions. However, some websites go too far and try to trick or mislead you into doing what they want. This has led to what are called "Dark Patterns", or shady ways of tricking you into performing actions without you knowing.

It's important that you are aware of these patterns, and so below are a list of dark patterns with interactive examples. The more you know, the more control you will have.

Sneak into Basket

The Sneak into Basket technique is often used to get you to buy extra and unnecessary items without your knowledge. It works by sneakily adding items to your shopping cart right before your purchase.

Shady Store
Cool item
Awesome item
Ok item

Confirmshaming is when websites make the "No" option something terrible to guilt you into saying "Yes" instead. This technique is a favorite among blogs and news sites to get you to subscribe to their newsletters.

Fake Friend Request

Social media sites use this technique to trick you into sending more friend requests. They do this by sending you fake friend requests, and when you accept them you're actually sending a friend request instead. It's social media's way of influencing who you connect with.

Friend Requests
Tom Tomson
Jim Jimson
Ann Annson
Fake Notifications

Social media sites want you to get in the habit of checking your notifications regularly, and so some sites will send you fake notifications. These notifications are not relevant to you but get you into the habit of checking them.

Segmented Email List

Companies will often segment their email lists into different groups. A shady company will use this to force you to unsubscribe from each individual group instead of from the email list as a whole.

Click the email lists you want to unsubscribe from. You're too lazy to click them all!
Share The Article

Sometimes desperate sites will make you share the article before you can finish it. It's a lame attempt at going viral and the article is always low quality.

7 Reasons Listicles Suck!
1. No supporting data
2. They're made in 5 minutes
3. They steal content
Desperate Friend Request

Some social media sites will send a desperate-sounding friend request on your behalf. Social media sites are more valuable when they are highly connected, and so some go too far to make that happen.

Tom Tomson
UI Switcheroo

Just when you're getting hang of the UI layout, some websites will switch it up to trick you. This is usually done to get you to accept something by mistake.

Would you like to sign up for our newsletter?
Agree and...

Most sites require you to agree to a TOS after signing up, and so people often check the agree box without reading it. Sites know this, and so some will use the agree button to include signing up for a newsletter and other shady things.

Create Account
Name: Bob Bobson
Date of Birth: 1/1/11
Role: Unemployed
I agree to the TOS and henceforth agree to sell my soul to shady corp, forfeit my first born child to will of the corporation, and sign up for the newsletter.
Contacts Spam

Some sites will gain the ability to message your contacts after signing up (social media contacts and/or email contacts). They will abuse this access by messaging everyone in your contacts list without your knowledge.

Download ads

This dark pattern is probably the oldest on this list. These are ads that disguise themselves as the real download button and give you malware instead. Any shady software site will have these.

Hopefully knowing about these dark patterns will help you avoid them. Also, if more people know about them they will slowly lose effectiveness.