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Dark Patterns: Surveillance Capitalism and Business Ethics

The Dark Patterns Workshop explores corporate surveillance and its implications for privacy and autonomy.

Welcome to the Dark Patterns Workshop!

In this workshop we will:

  • Learn how companies make money from data collection practices
  • Explore how interface design can influence our choices and behaviors
  • Discuss business ethics regarding privacy and big data

Man wearing a VR headset in a dark room

Image adapted from "Man Wearing Oculus" by VAZHNIK via

  This workshop is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Hartman-Caverly, S. (2022). Dark patterns: Surveillance capitalism and business ethics.

From data to dollars

Respond to the following questions:

  • How is your personal data used?
  • How valuable is your personal data? (Estimate a $ amount!)
  • What drives innovation?
  • Should data collection be regulated? If so, by whom?
  • When thinking about technology, how do you feel about the future?

Questions inspired by Technology Optimism Quiz by Tijmen Schep.

Where is all that data coming from? Consumer products and personal data

You've probably heard the phrase, "If the product is free, you're the product that's being sold."  But what about products and services that we pay for?

Use Mozilla Foundation's *privacy not included guide to learn about the data collection and sharing practices of popular consumer tech.

  1. Select a category of interest or browse All.
  2. Set the “*privacy not included” filter.
  3. Select a product to view its profile.

Discussion questions:

  • What product did you look at?
  • How creepy do you think this is? Why?

Made with Padlet

Dark patterns: A hidden surveillance architecture

Explore the following links to experience dark patterns - a technique of persuasive (or deceptive, or manipulative) design to nudge your behaviors and maximize personal data collection.

  • How did you feel while navigating these dark patterns?
  • Have you encountered dark patterns in real life? Describe your experience.
  • Do you think dark patterns are ethical? Why or why not?

Made with Padlet

How should we manage privacy?

Consider the four regulators: law, market, design, and norm. Which regulator, or combination of regulators, do you think is the best approach to managing privacy and corporate surveillance?

Open the Jamboard link and use the drawing or shape tool to indicate your position in the regulatory compass.

Regulatory Compass graphic depicting the four regulators (beginning at the top and moving clockwise): law, design, norm, and market.

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Profile Photo
Sarah Hartman-Caverly
Penn State Berks, Thun 107
Social: Twitter Page
Subjects: Campus: Berks