It’s time to change the conversation around dark patterns.

It’s time to call them what they are.

Manipulative patterns.

The term dark patterns was coined by Harry Brignull in 2010. It gave us much-needed language classify and talk about the techniques used in products and apps to trick users into doing things.

Today, technology is more capable. It’s deeply intertwined into our lives in ways we can’t always predict. And it often causes real human harm, by design.

But the term “dark patterns” creates distance. It obscures the intent behind purposeful decisions made by real humans, by describing a malicious action as an abstract outcome. In turn, it allows companies to deny and downplay agency for their decisions.

Language has power.

Let’s start calling them what they are: manipulative patterns.

Manipulative patterns are deceptive practices in products and services designed to influence user behaviour or agency for the benefit of the manipulator.