How Apple Sneaks Into Your Private Life

Illusions used in web and smart phone design
Illusions are used by companies to trick people into doing things they would usually not do.

Is the image to the left moving, or it static? This is one of thousands of illusions that trick our brains into incorrectly processing something we see.

Apple, the company that built its reputation for exquisite design, uses such trickery to give advertisers access to your iPhone use. Yeah, you read that right. Apple’s iOS has a sneaky way of allowing advertisers to access your private information.

It starts with burying the control for ad limiting under vague categories. But here’s where it gets really interesting: the control uses a double negative, which confuses our brains and tricks many of us into accidentally selecting the option that allows for ad tracking.

Check it out yourself with an iPhone.  Hint: look in the “General” section, then “About”, but you’ll have to scroll down to the bottom to see “advertising”. Now click on that and what does it say? “limit ad tracking”. That’s purposefully misleading for our brains. If we don’t want ad tracking, our brains are likely to asses this option and decide we don’t want to select the “on” button. See what they did there?

In his post “The Slippery Slope”, Harry Brignull offers chilling insight to the nefarious ways that some of the biggest names on the web use to fool our brains into getting us to do something we wouldn’t normally do. Utilizing the methods our brains use to navigate our world, many companies trick us into opting in to participation and even purchases we do not want. This practice has a name: Dark Pattern. It’s a user interface that uses manipulative techniques to get users to do things they would not otherwise have done.

But, if using Dark Patterns increases opt-in rates or even sales revenue, isn’t it worth it? In a word, No. Deceiving your customers may work for a little while, but you won’t get away with it for long. Your customers will soon discover they’ve been tricked into opting in to a program to receive emails they don’t want or to spending money for services or products they didn’t want and then they will be annoyed. And probably angry. No one likes to be duped into doing something they don’t want to do. The cost of using Dark Patterns is loss those customers who discover they’ve been tricked and the bad reviews they will post on the web and social media, as a result.

My point of view is that people do business with people and the Golden Rule applies to all human interaction. Build your brand using consideration for others and you will be rewarded with happy customers who help your business grow. Positive customer experiences are good for business.


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