LinkedIn and Its Alleged Dark Pattern GUI

February 15, 2016

I am a no pay user of LinkedIn. I don’t pay much attention to the service. I noticed that I no longer receive automatic notifications when one of the few groups I “follow” post new items. My hunch is that LinkedIn does not find my sense of humor in line with the firm’s revenue goals and its efforts to boost its stock price.

I read “LinkedIn Dark Patters or Why Your Friends keep Spamming You to Sign Up for LinkedIn.” (Note if the link does not work, you will have to deal with the publisher.) I did not give LinkedIn permission to suck up my address book. I do receive wonky emails from people I don’t know thanking me for my “anniversary.” Hey, LinkedIn, I am retired, and I am not into the anniversary thing. Send me a Hallmark card. That’s really sincere.

In the write up there was a reference to a phrase which I found interesting. The phrase is “dark pattern.” The idea is that LinkedIn allegedly uses interface tricks and confusing links to get “permission” to send email to people.

I am not sure what LinkedIn hopes to accomplish with this trick. Maybe the outfit needs new customers of a service which is mostly a job hunting and data collection system? Maybe LinkedIn is helping people reunite with contacts who are stranded in an unused corner of an address book? Maybe LinkedIn is desperate to irritate people? I am not sure.

I quite like the phrase “dark pattern.” I noticed that Google is going to take action when “download” buttons do not perform as expected. Hey, what’s the hurry.

After reading the write up, I noticed that when people want to be my LinkedIn pal, I no longer can reply to that person. I have the choice of accept or reject. I don’t click any buttons, but it seems reasonable that if someone wants to be my pal, I should be able to ask, “Why?”

Who wants to buddy up to a 71 year old who spends his time thinking about the sad state of the online industry, the quasi monopolies that crush innovation, and the services which try hard to make their spreadsheet fevers disappear with actual revenues?

Interesting question. I love the “dark pattern” thing. But the idea offends me. I will continue to make the links on my pages do what the user expects. I am one of a almost extinct species. If you want to buy CyberOSINT, you have to navigate to an info page and then click a link that asks you to buy. That click displays the purchase page. No trickery. You can depart at any time without fear of spam.

Stephen E Arnold, February 15, 2016

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