E-commerce websites may use devious techniques to manipulate consumers into purchasing items and online services they may not otherwise choose.
These "dark patterns" range from outright deception to more middle-of-the-road strategies, with the issue of user consent a key point of debate.
Princeton University researchers used software to scan more than 10,000 e-commerce sites, and found dark-pattern techniques on approximately 1,200 of them.
These techniques include easy sign-ups that are difficult to cancel, and an online reseller site posting fake messages about recent purchases to encourage transactions.
Regulatory discussions with lawmakers are also taking place, with one proposal aimed at outlawing certain dark-pattern techniques and broadening the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's enforcement authority.
From The New York Times
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