On Friday, December 3, 2021 at 4:30 PM Dominique Kelly will present in the FIMS Mediations Series on “Dark Pattern Typology: How Social Networking Sites Deter Disabling of User Account.” This talk is accessible via Zoom ( Zoom link: https://westernuniversity.zoom.us/j/96764116849 or a Facebook event: https://fb.me/e/PLARJzTC, organised by the mediations organizing committee at FIMS, Western University, London, ON.
Dark patterns are user interface (UI) strategies deliberately designed to influence users to perform actions or make choices that benefit online services. This presentation examines how dark patterns are employed by social networking sites (SNSs) with the intent to deter users from disabling their accounts. We recorded our attempts to disable experimental accounts in 26 SNSs drawn from Alexa’s 2020 Top Sites list. As a result of our systematic content analysis of the recordings, we identified major types of dark patterns (Obstruction, Obfuscation, Inducements to Reconsider, and Consequences) and unified them into a conceptual model, based on the differences and similarities within nuanced subtypes. Our findings provide empirical evidence for these pervasive – yet rarely discussed – strategies in the industry. Users who wish to discontinue using these sites – to protect their privacy, break an addiction, and/or improve their general well-being – may find it difficult or nearly impossible to do so.
Bio: Dominique Kelly is a doctoral student in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at Western University. She holds a BA in Rhetoric and Professional Writing and an MA in Rhetoric and Communication Design from the University of Waterloo. Currently, her research focuses on how user interface design tactics influence users’ online decision-making with respect to the collection, disclosure, and processing of their personal information.