: The ‘dark patterns’ in Fortnite that led to the largest FTC penalties ever

by | Dec 19, 2022 | Stock Market

The pair of settlements filed on Monday between the Federal Trade Commission and Epic Games, creator of the teen-favorite game Fortnite, were each record-breakers on their own count. The first settlement—a whopping $275 million charge against the company for allegedly flouting child-privacy laws with its products—was the largest penalty ever incurred for violating an FTC rule, the agency said. The company also agreed to pay the largest refund ever issued in a gaming case raised by the FTC, $245 million, in response to the agency’s allegations regarding Epic’s use of “dark patterns” that duped players into paying for goods that they might not have intended to buy.

While privacy issues have been on lawmakers’ radars for decades, their focus on these deceptive designs have only come to fruition in recent years. California formally addressed dark patterns as part of an update to the state’s digital privacy legislation in 2021, while a group of bipartisan federal lawmakers issued a bipartisan bill seeking to ban these sorts of practices this past summer. What are “dark patterns?” Even if you’ve never heard the term “dark pattern” before, you’ve almost certainly come face-to-face with one somewhere on the web. Technologist Harry Brignull first coined the term in 2010 as a way to codify “manipulative or deceptive design decisions” that aim to get end users to take some sort of action that they might not have taken of their own free will. Certain subscription services, for example, have been accused of using dark patterns to discourage people from deleting their accounts …

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