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Dark Pattern Typology: How Do Social Networking Sites Deter Disabling of User Accounts?

EasyChair Preprint no. 8340

4 pagesDate: June 21, 2022


Dark patterns are user interface (UI) strategies deliberately designed to influence users to perform actions or make choices that benefit online service providers. This study 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 temporary 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 (Complete Obstruction, Temporary Obstruction, Obfuscation, Inducements to Reconsider, and Consequences) and unified them into a conceptual model, based on the differences and similarities within nuanced subtypes. We document their distribution in our sample SNSs, exemplifying dark UI design choices. 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.

Keyphrases: dark patterns, Social Networking Sites, user account disabling, user interface design

BibTeX entry
BibTeX does not have the right entry for preprints. This is a hack for producing the correct reference:
  author = {Dominique Kelly and Victoria L. Rubin},
  title = {Dark Pattern Typology: How Do Social Networking Sites Deter Disabling of User Accounts?},
  howpublished = {EasyChair Preprint no. 8340},

  year = {EasyChair, 2022}}
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