The Federal Trade Commission will host a virtual workshop on April 29, 2021 to examine digital “dark patterns,” a term that has been used to describe a range of potentially manipulative user interface designs used on websites and mobile apps.
“Bringing Dark Patterns to Light: An FTC Workshop” will explore the ways in which user interfaces can have the effect, intentionally or unintentionally, of obscuring, subverting, or impairing consumer autonomy, decision-making, or choice. For example, some sites sneak extra items into a consumer’s online shopping cart, or require users to navigate a maze of screens and confusing questions to avoid being charged for unwanted products or services.
The FTC workshop will bring together researchers, legal experts, consumer advocates, and industry professionals to examine what dark patterns are and how they might affect consumers and the marketplace. Some of the topics the workshop will examine include:
how dark patterns differ from sales tactics employed by brick-and-mortar stores;
how they affect consumer behavior, including potential harms;
whether some groups of consumers are unfairly targeted or are especially vulnerable;
what laws, rules, and norms regulate the use of dark patterns; and
whether additional rules, standards, or enforcement efforts are needed to protect consumers.
Bringing Dark Patterns to Light Workshop
10:30 am Welcome and Opening Remarks
10:50 am Panel 1: What Are Dark Patterns, and Why Are They Employed?
11:45 pm. Presentation: Shining a Light on Dark Patterns
12:30 pm. Panel 2: How Do Dark Patterns Affect Consumers?
1:15 pm. Panel 3: How Do Dark Patterns Specifically Affect Communities of Color?
2:00 pm. Panel 4: How do Dark Patterns Target Kids and Teens?
3:00 pm Panel 5: How Can We Best Continue to Address Dark Patterns? Potential Strategies for Dealing with Dark Paterns
4:15 pm Closing Remarks