Deceived by Design
June 27, 2018 9:09 PM   Subscribe

The Norwegian Consumer Council (Forbrukerrådet), a government agency that promotes and protects the rights of consumers, has published a report in English [pdf link] on how Facebook, Google and Windows 10 use dark patterns to manipulate users.
posted by Vesihiisi (17 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
If you are Norwegian, I would like to take this moment to throw my panties at you.
posted by liminal_shadows at 9:11 PM on June 27 [20 favorites]

Nice! Thank you to all the designers, researchers, and legislators involved, and thank you Vesihiisi for posting.
posted by XMLicious at 9:42 PM on June 27

It's interesting...My default behavior since pretty much the start of my computer-based life has been to obsessively lock down all available privacy options from the get-go. It's such an ingrained behavior - mindset, or maybe lifestyle? - that I read things like this and think "Well yeah, obviously", forgetting that most people don't follow my approach or are even aware that they could choose to do so.

(as usual I'll add my caveat that I know better than to think I'm a complete cipher to the software and service companies I deal with, but I still think it's worthwhile to minimize my footprint)

All this is to say I wish there was more excellent reporting such as this, and more of a societal culture of pushing back against corporate/governmental efforts to invade our privacy at every turn. And while I'm at it, I wish for a million dollars and a pony.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:08 PM on June 27 [16 favorites]

essentially, this is a marketing document for Black Metal and facial-recognition software obscuring corpse paint, properly varigated, innit?
posted by mwhybark at 11:51 PM on June 27 [5 favorites]

> mwhybark:
"facial-recognition software obscuring corpse paint"

When I'm a corpse Facebook can go wild recognizing my face.
posted by chavenet at 1:55 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]

Being married and all I have to respectfully decline liminal_shadows 's panties, but Forbrukerrådet is indeed quite metal. They are independent of commercial interests, and their word carries quite a lot of weight. I have a couple of examples where I think Norwegian consumer protections are better than other nations':

If you order online or by mail you have a return window of two weeks after you receive the goods or services if you change your mind. That window is extended to 12 months if the seller didn't provide information and a return form in the shipment.

In general, there is a two year return policy for manufacturing defects in a product. It is five years for goods that are supposed to last. So your washer throws a bearing after 4 years and 11 months? Repair or new washer for you.

They will also take companies to court on behalf of groups of consumers (we don't really have the same concept for class action suits as the US).

BTW, increased protections always bring an outcry from importers and retailers. However, after years and years of improved consumer protections, it's still possible to run a business in Norway. Who knew?
posted by Harald74 at 2:21 AM on June 28 [38 favorites]

increased protections always bring an outcry from importers and retailers. However, after years and years of improved consumer protections, it's still possible to run a business in Norway. Who knew?

In any market, the amount a business makes depends mainly on how it performs relative to its competitors. So if there are rules and regulations that it saves money to flout, and the business can get away with flouting them rather than passing their compliance costs along to the customers, then the flouting of regulations becomes a competitive advantage.

It's therefore fairly easy for a business operator to start seeing all those regulations they're "forced" to flout as impediments to the operation of the business, and to imagine that if those regulations were relaxed or removed, business would be better. But this ignores the fact that removal of regulatory compliance costs would apply to all businesses operating within any given market, and would enable all of them to avoid passing those costs on to their customers. So in fact the removal of regulations provides a competitive advantage only to businesses that were not avoiding their compliance costs, and operating successfully without flouting them in the first place.

So what this all boils down to is this: if, as a business operator, you're advocating for the watering down of regulations, your only reasonable rationale for doing that is that you have reason to believe that your competitors are avoiding compliance costs by flouting them. And you'd be better served, both from a reputational and straight profitability standpoint, by advocating for more effective compliance enforcement instead.

Because ultimately it's consumers, not businesses, who bear the cost of regulatory compliance. And the simple fact is that consumers are generally in favour of regulations designed to protect us and are willing to pay somewhat more for goods and services we can be confident are not actively trying to kill us.
posted by flabdablet at 4:13 AM on June 28 [21 favorites]

This was excellent, thank you! Having just gone through a third Windows 10 new machine install since release I think I'm getting better at locking down all the loopholes. No I don't want to use Edge browser! Ever!
posted by Molesome at 4:32 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]

No I don't want to use Edge browser! Ever!
Aw, c'mon... Edge works great for downloading Chrome and Firefox.
posted by xedrik at 6:31 AM on June 28 [4 favorites]

Greg_Ace: it's probably a generational thing? There's more and more people out there who have grown up with smartphones, which both make signing up for stuff easier (it no longer feels like A Big Thing Where You Fill Out A Form) and make all sort of settings hard to access because of screen size. Also "back in the days", before everyone and their cat were on Facebook, the people who did things online were more probable to be actually interested in computers and to simply click around looking at all the settings available. This is an actual difference I can see, people generally aren't interested in digging into the details of the tools they use. If the details are purposefully hidden, then, well, bad things can happen.
posted by Vesihiisi at 7:15 AM on June 28 [2 favorites]

It's been said before, but I think it bears repeating: If the service is "free" then you are the product they are selling.
posted by Paladin1138 at 7:15 AM on June 28

Nerdwriter has a great video on Dark Patterns.
posted by Acey at 8:57 AM on June 28

Edge works great for downloading Chrome and Firefox

So does opening your thumb drive and double-clicking the copy of install-browsers.exe you saved there for this purpose.

Or if you want to look hardcore, you can memorize the following command for typing into a windows-R Run box or saving as install-browsers.cmd:
powershell -c "(New-Object Net.WebClient).DownloadFile('',($s='%tmp%\setup.exe'));&$s"
posted by flabdablet at 9:06 AM on June 28 [5 favorites]

it's probably a generational thing?

Maybe, but I suspect that a bigger factor is that only a modest minority of tech-savvy people in any generation are really aware of these sorts of details. Most people in general are relatively clueless (or unconcerned) about the need to make dedicated efforts to configure personal privacy and security. Probably because there's never been enough proactive education on the topic (IMO).
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:36 AM on June 28 [2 favorites]

Or who knows, maybe I'm just more paranoid than most people...
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:36 AM on June 28

Or who knows, maybe I'm just more paranoid than most people...

That’s just what you want me to think!
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:34 AM on June 28 [4 favorites]

...Or is it?? Complete this detailed questionnaire to find out!
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:04 PM on June 28 [6 favorites]

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