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Juliana Serna Mesa   I   Dark Data 2023 

Digital Trust: Unmasking Deceptive Patterns

In today's digital age, there is a need to raise awareness about how interfaces are meticulously designed to subtly influence behavior, often leading individuals to engage in tasks they might not have otherwise considered. The intricate world of the web is fascinating, with its strategies crafted to tap into psychological tendencies and towards specific behaviors, raising ethical questions about the balance between user engagement and cyber manipulation.



Fake Urgency

Forced Action

Hard to Cancel

Visual Interference


Hidden Costs


Trick Questions


Roach Motel
Sneak into Basket

Have you experienced online deception?

Are we actually capable of avoiding deceptive patterns?



"What are Deceptive Patterns"

A manipulative design scheme is a pattern that encourages users to perform an action advantageous to the company.

 This is achieved through deceiving, misdirecting, shaming, or obstructing the user’s ability to make another

(less profitable) choice.

These tactics are particularly effective when targeting vulnerable users, including children and those with lower

digital literacy.

This exacerbates the ethical concerns surrounding such practices.

Deceptive patterns harm users by causing cyber exhaustion, anxiety, loss of privacy, and data exposure.

data matters




Disseminating false information with the intent to mislead or manipulate public opinion. 

64% of



in fake news

Causing a great deal of confusion as 23% said they had shared or fabricated fake stories themselves to gain popularity.

 Close to 40% of respondents to a study by Statista admitted to having accidentally shared fake news with friends in 2022.


Concealing additional costs or fees until a user is committed to a transaction.

Food delivery apps often lead to unexpected and undesirable outcomes such as subscription models, in-app purchases, limited free trials, and extra business and service costs. These companies can charge hidden fees of up to 24% of the order's cost. Fees can almost double the price of an order when tips are added. 

78% of  web services carry hidden fees


This type of pattern is purposefully crafted to confuse, by using different language artifices, such as intricate wording and double negatives in order to nudge the user into taking the desired action.

Have been preselected by online abusers to hack bank accounts and social media accounts. Sneaky tracking mechanisms, such as hidden cookies or unclear privacy policies, can compromise user privacy without their knowledge.

3 in 5 web subscribe

services utilize tricky wording 

And confusing UI to persuade users not to opt out of services such as subscription-based models, memberships, and newsletter emails.

Trick content and difficult language irritate customers as they delay the action.


Deceptive websites might mimic the appearance of legitimate websites, especially those of banks, social media platforms, or email providers. Users may unknowingly enter credentials, which are then captured by attackers

1 in 4 young users have been targeted by abusers

Compromising user privacy and financial security without their knowledge.


With the intention of misleading users into making an immediate purchase or taking swift actions that could result in a purchase. This may involve presenting inaccurate indications of a product's popularity and inflating claims about limited availability.

65% of  shoppers claimed feeling pressured 

And reported having anxiety symptoms after making decisions quickly, due to impulsive behaviour and unnecessary purchases.

82% of

senior adults

trust in promotional pop-ups

While acquiring products or engaging in services. This statistic underscores the significance of these particular elements in influencing the decision-making process of the senior demographic. 


It is when the design purposefully focuses users' attention on one thing to distract attention from another.

Misdirection is the sneakiest type of pattern because it exists in a grey area.

Numerous deceptive patterns exist, and ample literature from UX professionals, educators, and legal rights experts delves into categorizing them.

Due to the abundance of these patterns on our web landscape and the varied terminologies used, it is impractical to cover all in this space.

The most infamous examples are highlighted below:


other awful & unlawful


Negatively affect our digital experiences on a daily basis.



"Origin & Evolution"

The concept of deceptive pattern (found as “dark patterns”) was coined by Harry Brignull in 2010. Harry is a user experience director, passionately committed to exposing deceptive design practices, and a lawsuit advocate involved in these practices.

Deceptive patterns are prolific on the web and in digital design. A 2019 study by researchers from Princeton University and the University of Chicago found deceptive design patterns were present on over 10% of a sample of 11,000 popular e-commerce sites on the web. Another study by researchers from the University of Zurich in 2019 found that deceptive patterns were present in 95% of 240 free, trending apps sampled from the Google Playstore, and over half of these apps had an average of  7 deceptive patterns.

Nielsen Norman Group


What Makes Something

a Deceptive Pattern?

Social Proof



3 people bought this item last week!

Commonly used while on retail stores

5338 people viewed this in the last hour

Used while booking a hotel room

Jane in Brooklyn, just purchased

Habitual in ecommerce

4 sold in the last 5 hours

Recurrent in any online service

72 viewing this product right now!

Used while booking a hotel room

Favored by: 400 people!

Used while booking a hotel room

85 have it in their cart

Commonly while purchasing furniture

No thanks, I don't want a free gift

Used in renewal membership plans

I don't like to save money

Commonly used by car rental agencies

No thanks, I will pay the full price

Used in cable and IT providers



"Future & Onwards"

What does a future without a web deception look like?

how to do



Design x Humanity

Involves prioritizing transparency, user empowerment, accessibility, consent, and ethical considerations. By providing clear information, respecting user choices, being aware of the surrounding emotions and experiences, ensuring accessibility, and considering the broader impact of design decisions on nature and human well-being, businesses can avoid deceptive patterns. Emphasizing empathy and delivering a service that is beneficial for both parties, in the long run, contributes to positive and ethical digital experiences, fostering trust, user satisfaction, and ultimately achieving company goals.

Calm Technology

Creates experiences and services that are unobtrusive, minimally distracting, and seamlessly integrated into users' lives.

By prioritizing subtle notifications, context/nature-aware design, and user empowerment, Calm Tech contributes to more natural and enjoyable long-lasting interactions. This approach emphasizes well-being, mental health, and seamless integration of technology. Ultimately, the goal is to provide technology that enhances users' lives without causing unnecessary stress or disruption.

framework to avoid deceptive patterns?

More content might come soon, so stay tuned if you can, gracias for passing by, this space will be updated.

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