Dark Patterns

Dark Patterns are User Interfaces that are designed to trick people.

There are many of those in apps we use everyday. There is no definite answer to what is considered a dark pattern.

A lot of times people argue whether something is a dark pattern. This discussion gets heated when the numbers prove to be positive for the business. Or the other way around.

I recently came through a few examples that I consider to be dark patterns that I am sharing in this post.



If you try to login with Google on Airbnb android app, it will ask you for permission to access your contacts. I think they use this later to know who on your network is using Airbnb, or to prompt you later to invite them to use the service.

The work around this was to do a forgot password, use my gmail account, create a password for the account, and login with my username and password. This way it won’t ask for access to my contacts.


Facebook in my opinion is the master of forcing users to do what Facebook wants. The following screenshot I took when I was using mobile web last year before deleting my account.


It was trying to mislead me into thinking that my friends are sending invitations to download the messenger app, while in fact if you just skip the message you will find your messages and you can use them just as if you have the app. I am sure this was very successful.


This one I stumbled upon recently while booking an Easyjet flight. After selecting the two flights, you are taken to a page where the first thing you see after seat selection is this part.


This made me think the flight doesn’t allow me any bags and I have to purchase the hold bags. Notice the name “Hold Bags”. It made me think hold bags includes/means carry on.

If you scroll to the very bottom, you will find that you can bring a carry on, but they name it Cabin baggage.


If you don’t scroll, you won’t see that you can bring a “Cabin baggage”, and you will think you have to purchase a “Hold Bag”. I wonder how much baggage sales increased after this implementation.


What dark patterns you saw recently? 


Designing for creepiness

I had my Facebook deactivated for 6 months, during which I visited Saudi Arabia and worked with a guy for three days. The main communication during this trip was WhatsApp.

Few weeks ago I reactivated my Facebook, few days later I found him as one of the recommended friends. I don’t have Facebook app on my phone so they can’t have access to my address book, but I have WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook.

Today I had a friend asking me, how can she disable allowing Google to get access to her location. She said whenever she opens Google search she finds at the end of the page Google telling her where she is. When she opens Google maps it automatically opens on her neighborhood. She went so far to reinstalling windows but still couldn’t get rid of it.

I told her they are getting her location from her IP, and gave her a locate my IP link so she can get a better idea. And as for the Facebook case, I know how they got this guy, but not every Facebook user knows that WhatsApp is owned by Facebook and technically they can connect the missing pieces from Facebook to WhatsApp and the other way around.

With the explosion in data collection and ease of analyzing the data for smarter recommendations, users are losing control over what they are sharing not understanding how it can be used later. This leads to a bigger UX challenge where whenever a company is introducing a new feature specially in recommendation, it needs to reassure the user that their information is safe and there is nothing to worry about. Otherwise it is too creepy.