"I thought it was a free trial, but it turned out to be a subscription without me knowing" "If you want to buy a plane ticket, you will be charged 3000 yen at the last minute"

may have been guided by the design of the site or app.
"Dark pattern", have you heard?

(Digitally not deceived interview team Tatsuro Imono)

Before you know it, you will become a paid member...

"I was paying 4,5000 yen without realizing it," was

the voice of NHK's information service "News Post".

The person who contacted me was Chiaki (pseudonym, 30s), who lives in the Kansai region.

We asked him directly what happened.

Ms. Chiaki

About six years ago, Chiaki had been using a music distribution service as a "free member".

However, in August, I realized that I was paying my "membership fee".

If you look closely, you will find that in November five years ago, I became a "paid member" of a music distribution service.

And after the free period, I paid a total of about 6,8 yen in membership fees for about four and a half years.

Chiaki says that she only listened to a few songs once a month and had no intention of becoming a paid member.

I was worried that someone might have registered me without permission in a phishing scam, etc., and when I looked it up on the Internet, I found many posts that said they had a similar experience.

I think it's because I pressed the pop-up without knowing it."

The pop-up that seems to have been used five years ago when Chiaki became a paid member is like this.

Along with the wording "Unlimited listening to △△ songs", the "free trial" button was prominently displayed.

On the other hand, it was not explicitly stated that you would automatically become a paid member after the free period, and the membership fee was written in small letters.

Chiaki herself remembered seeing such a pop-up.

I thought I was pressing the button to reject the one that prompts me to register as a paid member, but since various types of pop-ups are displayed many times, Chiaki thinks that I may have pressed the "free trial" button at some point.

It was also a delay in noticing that the credit card statement did not clearly indicate that it was a membership fee for a music service.

I contacted the company and was told that I would not have to pay the membership fee for the last month, but I did not get back the amount before that.

"I was stunned because my income had recently decreased, and I was trying to cut down on my living expenses as much as possible, such as unplugging electrical appliances frequently.

Have you ever experienced the "7 types"?

This kind of web design that leads consumers to unfavorable decisions without them noticing them is called a dark pattern.

"It refers to the web design of a mechanism that induces consumers to make unfavorable judgments and decisions without realizing it" (from the website of the Consumer Affairs Agency).

While legislation is progressing in Europe and the United States, in Japan there is no law that regulates the entire dark pattern except for some malicious ones.

In a report published last year, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation) states that there are seven types of dark patterns.

< > relentless repetition (nagging), such as

coercion<<b10> user registration, disclosure of personal information interface interference> pre-selection
of options that are convenient for the operator, visual prominence, etc

Sneaking is an act

that repeatedly requests
the operator to change the settings that are convenient for them
< such as notifications and location information acquisition> <<b19> interferes with canceling the contract or returning to privacy-friendly settings>
Urgency to add a commission at the end of a transaction, automatically transition to a subscription after a trial period< <<b113>
other consumers of false impressions and behaviors
social proof>
False countdown timer, indication of low stock, high demand, etc.

After checking with multiple experts, Chiaki's case falls under the second category of "interface interference".

In addition, I am sure that you have at least one experience that makes you think, "Is that also a dark pattern ...".

Confirmed by 93% of apps "Japan is a big risk"

The reality of how widespread the dark pattern is is also becoming clear.

Tokyo Tech Associate Professor Katie Seaborn (left) and members of her lab

According to the results of a survey published in April by a laboratory of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, it was found that dark patterns were used in as many as 4.200% of the 93 apps that were downloaded in fields such as shopping and music.

The most common 55% of apps were that the option that is convenient for the operator is selected in advance.

For example, when shopping online or making a travel reservation, "registration for e-mail newsletter" is set by default, and you may not be aware of it and you will receive a large number of e-mails without knowing it.

The next most common method was to enlarge the letters of options that are convenient for the operator, such as "accept" or "purchase", or make them stand out in color.

Also known as "fake hierarchy," this technique was also observed in more than half of apps, or 53% of apps.

This was followed by "relentless repetition" (43%), "coercive behavior" (20%), such as forcing people to sign up for an account more than necessary, and "hidden information" (19%), such as asking for a fee at the end.

How not to be "fooled" by dark patterns

With so many dark patterns spreading, what can you do to protect yourself?

We interviewed Yuki Nakano, a UX writer who thinks about wording so that users can use websites and other devices comfortably, and who has written a book on dark patterns.

UX writer Yuki Nakano

It may seem obvious, but first of all, you need to know that dark patterns exist, and what types and methods there are.
It's easy to get impatient when it says "limited-time sale" or "○ people have made a reservation", but at that time, you can logically judge if you think, "Is this a dark pattern?"

In addition, when purchasing a product, please check the details of the transaction and the conditions for cancellation on the "Final Confirmation Screen".
Even if the entire website is long and difficult to check, the final confirmation screen is a relatively compact summary of important information, so be sure to read it carefully.
It is also effective to save an image of the final confirmation screen in case of trouble.

Also, if you're new to the website, it's also helpful to check its reputation.
If many people feel that they have been deceived, there are many cases where a bad reputation is spreading on word-of-mouth sites and SNS.

Now that Internet services are spreading to every corner of society, it is not easy to completely escape the dark pattern.

However, I hope that by knowing what kind of cases there are and how you can protect yourself, you will be able to help protect yourself.

(* Some of the images used in the article were created based on Mr. Nakano's materials)

* Scheduled to be broadcast on November 11 on "Metropolitan Area Network".

NHK News Post

interview team is looking for your experiences.