Types of dark patterns

Learn about the seven categories of dark patterns highlighted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD):

Forced action: Forcing you to do something in order to gain access to a specific functionality. For example, demanding personal information (i.e. phone number, email address, etc.) to gain access to the desired content or features. This is common on certain news and social sites that do not allow you to access the article or post unless you create an account with the business.

Interface interference: Manipulating the way things are presented on your screen to lead you towards a specific action. For example, you might see options preselected that add to your total cost, pop-ups that encourage you to subscribe with a hidden "exit" button, or negative emotional language when you opt out of choosing an option that benefits the business. This last example may look like a message offering you a discount if you provide your email address with the options: "Yes, I love saving!" and "No thanks, I like paying full price". This use of emotive language is also known as "confirmshaming".

Nagging: Repetitive requests to do something, such as turning on notifications or location tracking.

Obstruction: Making the completion of a task more complex than it needs to be in hopes that you will abandon the task. A common example is making it easy to create an account or sign up for a service, but making it difficult to delete the account or cancel the subscription.

Sneaking: This occurs when the seller hides, disguises, or delays sharing information relevant to your purchase, often regarding costs. Examples include waiting until you're ready to check out to reveal additional non-optional charges (e.g., shipping or delivery fees) or sneaking an item into your cart without your consent.

Social proof: Attempting to trigger a decision based on observations of other online shoppers' behaviours. For example, while you're looking at a product online, you receive a notification about how often this item was purchased recently.

Urgency: Putting pressure on you to make a purchase by imposing a real or fake perceptible limit on a deal. Examples include, low stock and high demand messages or a countdown timer to indicate an expiring deal or discount.

For more examples of dark patterns and information on possible policy and enforcement measures that can be used to address them, read the full OECD report on Dark commercial patterns.