Privacy Dark Patterns

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Privacy Dark Patterns
Short Title Sites and Apps Using Privacy Dark Patterns to Manipulate Users Into Giving Up More Personal Information
Location Global
Date August 2020

Taxonomy Decisional Interference
Information Identifying, Behavioral, Preference, Computer Device, Contact
Threat Actors Sites and apps that use privacy dark patterns

Affected Online users
High Risk Groups Children, Wealthy, Elderly
Secondary Consequences

Social media platforms and other sites and apps repeatedly use so-called dark patterns to nudge users toward giving away more of their data.


Privacy dark patterns are design tricks, that many sites and apps are using in order to coerce individuals into giving up more personal information. This is a form of Decisional Interference.

Here are some of the related examples:

  • Twitter pop-up uses misleading language such as “You’re in control,” before inviting users to “turn on personalized ads” to “improve which ones you see” on the platform.
  • LinkedIn shows its users part of an InMail message in the email, but forces them to visit the platform to read more.
  • The smartphone app Trivia Crack nags its users to play another game every two to three hours.
  • The darkest patterns of all arise when people try to leave these platforms. Trying to deactivate an Instagram account users find it’s exceptionally hard. First, a user can’t do it from the app. From the desktop version of the site, the setting is buried inside of “Edit Profile” and comes with a series of interstitials. (Why are you disabling? Too distracting? Here, try turning off notifications. Just need a break? Consider logging out instead.)

Risk Statistics

Laws and Regulations