Dark Patterns in Digital Advertisements

Dark Patterns in Digital Advertisements

News: The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has released guidelines on dark patterns in digital advertisements, urging companies not to mislead customers through omission, exaggeration, implication, or ambiguity.

What are Dark Patterns?
• Dark patterns are deceptive design patterns that prompt users to purchase without giving explicit consent or trick them into sharing personal data or paying more than they intended. They can take various forms, such as disguised ads, false urgency, hidden costs, sneaking, etc.
• Dark patterns cause consumer harm and are considered unfair practices under the Consumer Protection Act 2019.

What are examples of Dark pattern?
• Friend spam - A social media platform or other product asks for your email address or permission to access your social contacts and then sends messages to them without your consent.
• Sneaking - A website adds extra items or services to your purchase without your clear consent, such as a subscription, an add-on, or a donation.
• Bait and switch - A product or service is advertised at a low price or with attractive features, but when you try to buy it, it is replaced with a more expensive or less desirable option.
• Other examples include False Urgency, Forced continuity, Hidden costs, Drip pricing etc.

What are the guidelines?
• The guidelines are self-regulatory and will be effective from September 1st.
• They aim to improve transparency and protect user autonomy.
• Incomplete price representations and offering alternative products or services would be considered misleading.
• Advertisers are also required to clearly differentiate between organic and paid ads on their platforms.
• ASCI plans to develop guidelines on advertisements making green claims and crowdsourcing platforms in the future.
• Department of Consumer Affairs will also soon release its own guidelines on dark patterns.

About ASCI:
• The Advertising Standards Council of India is a voluntary self-regulatory organization of the advertising industry in India.
• ASCI is registered as a non-profit company under section 25 of the Company Act.
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