News

‘Dark patterns’ are steering many internet users into making bad decisions

Even if you’ve never heard the phrase “dark patterns,” you’re almost certainly familiar with them. They’re the sneaky ways online companies trick you into agreeing to stuff you’d normally never assent to.

Classic example: You encounter a prompt asking if you want to sign up for some program or service, and the box is already checked. If you don’t uncheck it — that is, if you do nothing — you’re enrolled.

A bipartisan bill has been introduced in Congress that would prohibit websites and online platforms (hi, Facebook!) from employing such deliberately deceptive tactics, and would empower the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on sites that keep trying to fool people.

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