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Dark Patterns at Scale: Findings from a Crawl of 11K Shopping Websites

“Dark patterns are user interface design choices that benefit an online service by coercing, steering, or deceiving users into making unintended and potentially harmful decisions. We conducted a large-scale study, analyzing ~53K product pages from ~11K shopping websites to characterize and quantify the prevalence of dark patterns.

  • We discovered 1,818 instances of dark patterns on shopping websites, which together represent 15 types of dark patterns.
  • These 1,818 dark patterns were present on 1,254 of the ∼11K shopping websites (∼11.1%) in our data set. Shopping websites that were more popular, according to Alexa rankings, were more likely to feature dark patterns.
  • We demonstrate which of the dark patterns that we discovered rely on consumer deception. In total, we uncovered 234 instances of deceptive dark patterns across 183 websites.
  • We identify 22 third-party entities that provide shopping websites with the ability to create dark patterns on their sites. Two of these entities openly advertise practices that enable deceptive messages…”

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