Natasha Singer, New York Times:
Harry Brignull, a user-experience consultant in Britain who helps websites and apps develop consumer-friendly features, has a professional bone to pick with sites that seem to maneuver people into signing up for services they might not actually want.
He even has a name for the exploitative techniques: “dark patterns.” To him, these are debased versions of the typical sign-up, sharing, shopping, checkout and download processes that are standard practice online. […]
There’s the “sneak into basket” technique, where a retailer automatically adds products — like a magazine subscription or travel insurance — to consumers’ shopping carts and makes it hard for them to remove the unwanted items. There’s the “roach motel” or “walled-garden” technique, in which sites offer fast-and-easy sign-up processes but make it much more cumbersome for consumers to close accounts.
I, too, dislike it when companies allow you to register for or subscribe to something online, but require you to opt-out by phone or mail.