What is not in question is that the dark motives benefit a consumer who is short on time and whose attention span is increasingly limited. “When you are tired and tired, they tickle you and often times you are not wiser,” explains Brignull.
The vast scale at which dark patterns are used was revealed in a 2019 Princeton University study that analyzed 53,000 product pages across 11,000 shopping websites. One hundred and eighty-three websites have used them in a deceptive manner. “At best, dark patterns annoy and frustrate users,” one reads. “At worst, they can mislead and deceive users, for example by causing financial loss, tricking users into donating large amounts of personal data, or inducing compulsive and addictive behavior. The study also called on “regulators to investigate, mitigate and minimize the use of these models.”
In the UK, Missguided, Boohoo and PrettyLittleThing were also found to be heavy users of dark patterns, according to the Rouge Media study. During this time, Mango and Zara used them the least. Asos, H&M, Next, Uniqlo, and Urban Outfitters also used dark patterns to a lesser extent.
Ultimately, knowledge is power, and by being aware of how dark models are used and the potential they have to affect our decision-making, the more control we have over how who we spend our money with and with whom we share our personal data.