Unveiling ‘Dark Patterns’: Deceptive Practices Exploiting User Behavior
The advent of ‘dark patterns’ has introduced a disconcerting reality in the digital realm, where websites tactically manipulate users into unwittingly engaging in actions they might not consciously choose. This deception spans from nudging individuals into undesired services to creating barriers that deter them from leaving or terminating a service.
Understanding the Nexus of Dark Pattern and Marketing
Dark patterns, essentially malicious interface techniques, leverage human psychology to coax users into choices contrary to their best interests. Evolving into a pervasive element across social networking platforms, these patterns attract consumers but often at their expense. The ethicality of such practices remains subjective, varying based on the company-consumer relationship. Marketing, devoid of steadfast rules, deems actions ethical unless detrimental to consumers.
Types of Dark Patterns
Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn employ false notifications or email alerts, enticing users to spend more time on their sites for the benefit of developers, without substantial activity behind the notifications.
Price Comparison and Hidden Costs
Companies use obscured charges, hindering customers from comparing prices effectively. Airbnb, for instance, conceals additional fees until users select specific dates for their stay, obscuring the comprehensive cost.
Deciphering ‘Dark Pattern’
Coined by UX Designer Harry Brignull in 2010, ‘dark patterns’ infiltrated the digital marketing and advertising industry, often unbeknownst to consumers.
Dark Patterns in the Indian Context
While Indian law indirectly addresses data protection, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) scrutinizes deceptive marketing practices. ASCI’s task force targets dark patterns in Indian marketing, emphasizing the need for transparency in social media advertisements. Reports reveal a significant percentage of disguised advertisements, urging stakeholders to contribute to a more transparent marketing landscape.
Dark patterns’ are pervasive, necessitating stringent regulations worldwide. Despite global efforts, India lacks specific laws to counter these exploitative tactics. Urgency mounts as fraudulent cases surged during the pandemic, demanding immediate measures to safeguard users. While committees have convened, concrete data protection laws in India remain elusive, highlighting the pressing need for intervention from an Intellectual Property Lawyer to advocate for comprehensive legal frameworks addressing these issues.