Design sprint: dark patterns

Design Sprint: Dark Patterns
Group 7


Link to the web sign-up form:

The Smart Lock is a company that has locks for doors, devices and other entrances linked up with secure Key cards that allow users to be sure that whatever is behind the smart lock is secure and safe. Starting out, apartment managers or people that want to have their doors linked up with new smart locks can have install these new locks and provide the sign up forums needed to issue out the smart key cards. Apartment managers will be able to provide renters that their building is more secure and safe because of our new smart locks, also providing that the renter can ask for more of their devices can be protected by the smart key card by going to our web page for more information. The dark pattern is in the forum given to the person applying to rent, and will be crucial for them filling out the information so that they can use the doors of the apartment.

1. Describe the worst-case scenario damage this dark pattern can do to users.
The scenario starts with a student that has been on vacation all summer and as summer ends they come home to find that they got evicted from their apartment and need to find a new place to live fast with only a week left till school starts back up. The student looks online to see a low cost, secure, safe building is available using the new smart locks. The student applies for the apartment and is given a bunch of online forums they must fill out. In the stressful situation the student starts to fill out each forum with haste. Once the smart lock forum is pulled up, it appears like any other signing forum and agreement to get the apartment. With haste each field in the forum is filled out, not knowing that some of the fields can be left blank and some checkboxes given are there to trick the user. With all the fields filled in Smart Lock now has their SSN, email, address of their past place and new place, and subscribed to our email list to receive advertisements for our smart locks. This is a lot of information that is given and we had many ideas on how this information could be used to keep them part of the Smart Lock system, or mess with their lives. With being signed up for the smart locks this means that in order to get into the places protected by the smart locks they must keep up with the subscription and also keep their smart key card. If the student added more devices to be protected by Smart Lock then after installation of the locks the only way to get out is to remove the locks and cancel each subscription, witch is time consuming for a student that has a full load of classes.

2. What kinds of people/users are being exploited here? In other words, who is disadvantaged?
We are exploiting young students and older people that are in a rush to fill out information, or are not tech savvy to understand what they are signing up for.

3. What kinds people does this dark pattern benefit?
This dark pattern will benefit the apartment owners by giving them security to customers. This will benefit Police by letting them work with us to give police ease of access to doors or devices that are backed by our system. And the last one to benefit from our dark patterns is data collectors that want to know where the user’s devices are going or how often they come home, little personal information that can give companies better ways to target the user.

4. How can your reader protect themselves against the dark pattern you proposed?
Opt out with traditional key systems, plead for legislation to prevent this kind of user exploitation. Another way to protect yourself is to always make sure what you are signing up for. If a forum is asking for information that is very personal ask why they might need that information. If a reason can not be explained then choose not fill out the information and see if it was needed at all. Be observant and read every checkbox with the intent that it may be a dark pattern.


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