Skip to main content

It’s like a scene from an Indiana Jones movie. Our hero enters a cave in search of treasure and every labyrinthine turn poses another unexpected hazard – trip-wired blades, runaway boulders, and snakes (“I hate snakes”). But we’re not talking about a rollicking adventure flick. We’re describing the experience of many online shoppers as they navigate some companies’ websites to avoid digital danger – for example, extra items showing up in a consumer’s cart, unauthorized charges, or the unintended disclosure of personal information. That’s the topic up for discussion on April 29, 2021, at Bringing Dark Patterns to Light: An FTC Workshop.

The workshop will explore the ways that some websites and apps employ user interfaces that could have the effect – intentionally or unintentionally – of impairing consumer choice. Researchers, legal experts, consumer advocates, and industry professionals will discuss what dark patterns are and the impact they have on customer experience. Among the subjects the event will consider are:

  • how dark patterns differ from analogous sales tactics used by brick-and-mortar stores;
  • how they affect consumer behavior, including potential harms;
  • whether some groups of consumers are unfairly targeted or could be especially vulnerable;
  • applicable laws, rules, and norms; and 
  • whether additional rules, standards, or enforcement efforts are needed to protect consumers.

In advance of the workshop, the FTC is seeking research, recommendations for discussion topics, and requests for panelists. Please email any relevant information to darkpatterns@ftc.gov by March 15th.

We’ll also be posting a specific request for comments related to dark patterns. You can submit comments by June 29, 2021, to that same email address.

Interested in attending? Bringing Dark Patterns to Light will be held virtually on April 29th. Bookmark the event page to watch the webcast from a link that will go live moments before the event convenes. Follow the Business Blog for updates about the request for comments and the agenda.


 

It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.

The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

More from the Business Blog

Get Business Blog updates