Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 4-28-2021


You’ve been there before. You thought you could trust someone with a secret. You thought it would be safe, but found out later that they blabbed to everyone. Or maybe they didn’t share it, but the way they used it felt manipulative. You gave more than you got and it didn’t feel fair. But now that it’s out there, do you even have control anymore?

Ok. Now imagine that person was your supermarket. Or your bank. Or your boss.

As designers of digital spaces for consumer products and services, how often do we consider the relationship we have with our customers? What does they need to know about us and what do we need to know about them before we can say we are “in a relationship”?

  • Are we spying on our users? Do they know what information we are collecting about them? Or how we collect that information?
  • Are we manipulating users? How much information is really needed? Are we gathering more than we need, just because we can? Are we using it to force actions the users wouldn’t normally make?
  • Are we keeping our promises? Are we being good custodians of our user’s information? Who are we sharing it with? Do we know what they do with our user’s information?
  • Are we designing dark patterns without knowing it? Also, is the term “Dark Pattern” itself a dark pattern?

In this talk, Noreen Whysel will discuss a framework for evaluating the relationship that digital technologies have with consumers and the digital harms and dark (or anti-) patterns that, whether we know it or not, violate that relationship. You will come away with an understanding of how to determine that what you are creating is fair, secure and in the user’s control. And that your relationship will be sound, respectful and long lasting.


Video with transcript is available at

Shedding Light on Dark Patterns-Description.pdf (84 kB)
Links shared during the presentation and Q&A



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