Disguised Ads & Recommendations

Disguised Ads and Recommendations is a pattern that involves inserting new, catchy content that resembles friends’ posts in users’ newsfeeds to mislead them. Advertisements are camouflaged as normal content or navigation in order for users to click on them. Sponsored pages and recommended posts, often by other people whom the user does not follow, are also injected. These recommendations are personalized based on the user’s profile, making them more enticing.

Example: Twitter

Sponsored pages are mixed with stories and posts from friends, and Twitter displays tweets from people that the user is not following, such as tweets of users followed by a friend or generic “you might like” tweets, by pretending they are normal content (highlighted in yellow). Such newsfeeds are designed to prolong usage sessions, causing a sense of regret, and users may not be able to process the misalignment between their beliefs and preferences and the content presented to them.