Deceptive design refers to the use of design strategies intended to manipulate or deceive users into taking actions that may not be in their best interests. These design patterns often take advantage of cognitive biases and behavioral tendencies to influence users’ decisions.
Design patterns such as Disguised Ads & Recommendations, Attentional Roach Motel, Time Fog, and Fake Social Notifications rely on deception to capture users’ attention and extend their usage. These patterns are often seen as strong candidates for regulation since they can trick users into believing something false, and it is feasible to establish standards for what constitutes an interface that deceives the user.
For instance, LinkedIn was required to pay a settlement of $13 million for its use of Fake Social Notifications, which spammed users with invite emails from “friends” that those friends never sent. Social media platforms are also required to disclose advertising content, although they often attempt to make the distinction between paid and organic as subtle as possible (Disguised Ads).
While regulation can be helpful in curbing the use of deceptive design patterns, it is not always easy to identify and regulate such patterns. Designers can often find ways to work around existing regulations or to create new patterns that are not yet covered by existing laws or guidelines.