Deceptive Patterns Online (DECEPTICON) 2021-24


Funding IS/14717072 supported by

FNR Luxembourg logo

An interdisciplinary research project on deceptive design patterns online: 2021-2024

Dark patterns are manipulative designs that aim at influencing the decisions users take online about the disclosure of their personal data, their purchases, and their use of time. Plenty of digital services employ dark patterns, ranging from social media to video games and e-commerce websites.

Such manipulative techniques expose users to various risks, like privacy invasion and financial harms, and impact collective welfare with repercussions on fair competition and consumer trust in the digital economy. Dark patterns are illegal when they circumvent the principles of transparency and fairness, and infringe the requirements of consent and data protection by design. They are also unethical because they undermine the autonomy of users.

Dark patterns are embedded both in user-facing front-end and in back-end technologies. This is why this issue calls for a socio-technical approach via interdisciplinary collaboration.

DECEPTICON has 4 main goals:

  • Empirically studying the effects of dark patterns on user behaviour
  • Developing data science techniques and formal methods to automatically recognize dark patterns
  • Developing tools to assess the presence of dark patterns on online services
  • Sharing information and know-how about dark patterns and countermeasures among various stakeholders (researchers, regulators, practitioners, NGOs, etc.)

Who benefits from this research?

icon business

Businesses that need to self-assess the compliance of their services and practitioners (designers, developers, etc.) who value the embedding of legal-ethical principles into their products.

icon law

Regulators, lawyers and other legal experts who need to thoroughly inspect the data practices of many companies or, conversely, advise their clients about best practices in system and interface design.

icon research

Researchers who study manipulation and deception under various angles (e.g., data science, law, HCI/UX, cybersecurity).

icon user

End-users who need a better protection of their rights and interests.

Project news

The Decepticon team

SnT, University of Luxembourg
Prof. Gabriele Lenzini
Prof. Gabriele Lenzini, IRISC
Dr. Arianna Rossi
Dr. Arianna Rossi, IRISC
Dr Marietjie Botes
Dr Marietjie Botes,  IRISC
COSA, University of Luxembourg
Prof. Vincent Koenig
Prof. Vincent Koenig, HCI team
Dr. Kerstin Bongard-Blanchy
Dr. Kerstin Bongard-Blanchy, HCI team
Dr. Anastasia Sergeva
Dr. Anastasia Sergeva, HCI team
Lorena Sanchez Chamorro
Lorena Sanchez Chamorro, HCI team
Luxembourg Institute of Science & Technology
Philippe Valoggia
Philippe Valoggia, LIST


Dubiel, Mateusz, Anastasia Sergeeva, and Luis A. Leiva. “Impact of Voice Fidelity on Decision Making: A Potential Dark Pattern? In IUI ’24: Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces March 2024 Pages 181–194.

Valoggia, Philippe, Anastasia Sergeeva, Arianna Rossi, and Wilhelmina Maria Botes. “Learning from the Dark Side About How (not) to Engineer Privacy: Analysis of Dark Patterns Taxonomies from an ISO 29100 Perspective.” In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Information Systems Security and Privacy. SCITEPRESS-Science and Technology Publications, 2024.

Gray, Colin M., Lorena Sanchez Chamorro, Ike Obi, and Ja-Nae Duane. “Mapping the Landscape of Dark Patterns Scholarship: A Systematic Literature Review.” In Companion Publication of the 2023 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference, pp. 188-193. 2023

Sánchez Chamorro, Lorena, Kerstin Bongard-Blanchy, and Vincent Koenig. “Ethical Tensions in UX Design Practice: Exploring the Fine Line Between Persuasion and Manipulation in Online Interfaces.” In Proceedings of the 2023 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference, pp. 2408-2422. 2023.

Sergeeva, Anastasia, Kerstin Bongard-Blanchy, Verena Distler, and Vincent Koenig. “The Perceived Influence of E-Shopping Cues on Customers’ Buying Decisions.” In Proceedings of the XI Latin American Conference on Human Computer Interaction, pp. 1-8. 2023.

Bongard-Blanchy, Kerstin, Jean-Louis Sterckx, Arianna Rossi, Anastasia Sergeeva, Vincent Koenig, Salvador Rivas, and Verena Distler. “Analysing the Influence of Loss-Gain Framing on Data Disclosure Behaviour: A Study on the Use Case of App Permission Requests.” In Proceedings of the 2023 European Symposium on Usable Security, pp. 112-125. 2023

Tuncer, Reha, Anastasia Sergeeva, Kerstin Bongard-Blanchy, Verena Distler, Sophie Doublet, and Vincent Koenig. “Running out of time (rs): effects of scarcity cues on perceived task load, perceived benevolence and user experience on e-commerce sites.” Behaviour & Information Technology (2023)

Dubiel, Mateusz, Kerstin Bongard-Blanchy, Luis A. Leiva, and Anastasia Sergeeva. “Are you sure you want to order that? On Appropriateness of Voice-only Proactive Feedback Strategies.” In Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Conversational User Interfaces, pp. 1-6. 2023.

Sergeeva, Anastasia, Björn Rohles, Verena Distler, and Vincent Koenig. ““We Need a Big Revolution in Email Advertising”: Users’ Perception of Persuasion in Permission-based Advertising Emails.” In Proceedings of the 2023 chi conference on human factors in computing systems, pp. 1-21. 2023.

Maria W. Botes, Rachele Carli, Arianna Rossi, Lorena Sanchez Chamorro, Cristiana Santos, 2022 “Feedback to the Guidelines 3/2022 on “Dark patterns in social media platform interfaces: How to recognise and avoid them”

Lorena Sanchez Chamorro, Kerstin Bongard-Blanchy, Vincent Koenig”Justice in interaction design: preventing manipulation in interfaces.” Workshop “Dreaming Disability Justice in HCI”, April 30–May 05, 2022, New Orleans (Virtual Workshop).

Maria W. Botes. 2022 “Autonomy and the social dilemma of online manipulative behavior.” AI & Ethics, Springer.

 Bongard-Blanchy, Kerstin, Jean-Louis Sterckx, Arianna Rossi, Verena Distler, Salvador Rivas, and Vincent Koenig. 2022. “An (Un) Necessary Evil-Users'(Un) Certainty about Smartphone App Permissions and Implications for Privacy Engineering.” In 2022 IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy Workshops (EuroS&PW), pp. 01-08. IEEE.

Rossi, Arianna, Regis Chatellier, Stefano Leucci, Rossana Ducato, and Estelle Hary. 2022. “What if data protection embraced foresight and speculative design?” In DRS2022 Bilbao. DRS Digital Library.

Rossi, Arianna, Mónica P. Arenas, Emre Kocyigit, and Moad Hani. 2022. “Challenges of protecting confidentiality in social media data and their ethical import” In 2022 IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy Workshops (EuroS&PW), pp. 554-561. IEEE.

Doan, Xengie, Annika Selzer, Arianna Rossi, Wilhelmina Maria Botes, and Gabriele Lenzini. “Context, Prioritization and Unexpectedness: Factors Influencing User Attitudes about Infographic and Comic Consent” WWW ’22: Companion Proceedings of the Web Conference 2022, April 2022, Pages 534–545. 2022. 

Arianna Rossi, Human Soheil, Degeling Martin, Santos Christiana, Pandit Harshvardhan, Morel, Botes Wilhelmina Maria, Jesus Vitor, Kamara Irene “Data Protection and Consenting Communication Mechanisms: Current Proposals and Challenges.” 2022 International Workshop on Privacy Engineering – IWPE’22, Co-located with 7th IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy, 6 June 2022, Genoa, Italy.

Cristiana Santos, Arianna Rossi, Lorena Sanchez Chamorro, Kerstin Bongard-Blanchy, and Ruba Abu-Salma. “Cookie Banners, What’s the Purpose? Analyzing Cookie Banner Text Through a Legal Lens.” In Proceedings of the 20th Workshop on Workshop on Privacy in the Electronic Society, pp. 187-194. 2021.

Maria Wilhelmina Botes and Arianna Rossi. 2021 “Visualisation Techniques for Consent: Finding Common Ground in Comic Art with Indigenous Populations.” In 2021 IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy Workshops (EuroS&PW), pp. 292-297. IEEE.

Kerstin Bongard-Blanchy, Arianna Rossi, Salvador Rivas, Sophie Doublet, Vincent Koenig, and Gabriele Lenzini. 2021. “I am Definitely Manipulated, Even When I am Aware of it. It’s Ridiculous!” – Dark Patterns from the End-User Perspective. In ACM DIS Conference on Designing Interactive Systems, June 28– July 2, 2021, Virtual event, USA.ACM, New York, NY, USA, 38 pages.

Arianna Rossi and Kerstin Bongard-Blanchy. 2021. All in one Stroke? Intervention Spaces for Dark Patterns. Position Paper at the Workshop “What Can CHI Do About Dark Patterns?” at the CHI Conference on HumanFactors in Computing Systems (CHI’21), May 8–13, 2021, Online Virtual Conference (originally Yokohama, Japan).5 pages.

Maria Wilhelmina Botes and Arianna Rossi. 2021 “Back to the Future with Icons and Images: “Low-Tech” to Communicate and Protect Privacy and Data.” R. Ducato and A. Strowel (Eds.), Legal Design Perspectives. Theoretical and Practical Insights from the Field, Ledi publishing

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