The vast majority of websites you visit now greet you with a pop-up. This annoying impediment to your seamless web browsing is called the “cookie banner”, and it’s there to secure your consent, as per online privacy laws, for websites to retain information about you between browsing sessions.
The cookie banner purports to offer you a choice: consent to only the essential cookies that help maintain your browsing functionality, or accept them all – including cookies that track your browsing history to sell on to targeted advertising firms. Because those additional cookies generate extra revenue for the websites we visit, cookie banners are often designed to trick you into clicking “accept all”.
The UK’s information commissioner recently urged G7 countries to address this problem, highlighting how fatigued web users are agreeing to share more personal data than they’d like. But in truth, manipulative cookie banners are just one example of what’s called “dark design” – the practice of creating user interfaces that are intentionally designed to trick or deceive the user.
Dark design has proven to be an incredibly effective way of encouraging web users to part with their time, money and