Dark Patterns in Proxemic Interactions: A Critical Perspective

Saul Greenberg, Sebastian Boring, Jo Vermeulen, Jakub Dostal
Presented by
Saul Greenberg

In Proc. of DIS 2014: the ACM conference on Designing Interactive Systems, Vancouver, Canada, June 2125, 2014, pp. 523532.
[~26% acceptance; 402 submissions]

Best Paper Award (top 1%)

(sketches by David Ledo)


Proxemics theory explains peoples' use of interpersonal distances to mediate their social interactions with others. Within Ubicomp, proxemic interaction researchers argue that people have a similar social understanding of their spatial relations with nearby digital devices, which can be exploited to better facilitate seamless and natural interactions. To do so, both people and devices are tracked to determine their spatial relationships. While interest in proxemic interactions has increased over the last few years, it also has a dark side: knowledge of proxemics may (and likely will) be easily exploited to the detriment of the user. In this paper, we offer a critical perspective on proxemic interactions in the form of dark patterns: ways proxemic interactions can be misused. We discuss a series of these patterns and describe how they apply to these types of interactions. In addition, we identify several root problems that underlie these patterns and discuss potential solutions that could lower their harmfulness.




Further reading