Facebook and Google dark pattern
Image: Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC)

After European Union privacy regulation GDPR came into effect, all big tech companies were forced into getting their privacy policies right. As a consequence, users were bombarded with a lot of e-mail and pop-ups labeled as “update to privacy policies.” But few tech giants namely Facebook and Google came up with new tricks up their sleeve when asked to be more transparent.

According to a report released by the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC), Facebook and Google have blatantly disregarded the “privacy of user” by positioning inappropriate language and confusing interface in their new privacy design, tricking users into believing into a false freedom of choice.

The 44 page PDF report that went out in May, carefully analyzed the new privacy design of Facebook, Google, and Microsoft Windows 10 and summarized “how default settings and dark patterns, techniques, and features of interface design meant to manipulate users, are used to nudge users towards intrusive privacy options.”

And it’s not very difficult to trick users into believing the illusion of choice, which is why these subtly installed design layouts are called Dark patterns — these are the features of interface design crafted to trick users into doing things that they might not want to do, but which benefit the business in question.

Norway report dark pattern
Norway report on privacy options

Furthermore, the report also points out that the few available choices are insufficient and the critical information is either omitted or downplayed. The companies also indirectly threaten the user with loss of functionality or deletion of user account if they don’t go by their intrusive privacy options.

Microsoft Windows 10 relatively came out “less unethical” compared to the other two. The analyzers found Microsoft Windows 10 much more compelling and presentable with easy turning off option next to each other.

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