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Many of New Zealand's most popular websites use ‘dark patterns’ to manipulate users – is it time to regulate?

By Cherie Lacey, Lecturer in Media Studies, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington
Alex Beattie, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Science in Society, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington
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More than half of the most popular New Zealand websites may be unfairly manipulating visitors, according to our latest research into the use of “dark patterns” in sites with a “” domain name.

While legal, dark patterns have been described as a type of online design employed to manipulate users into “making decisions that, if fully informed and capable of selecting alternatives, they might not make”.

They’re effective because they…

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