Research group at imec & Vrije Universiteit Brussel


Join the interdisciplinary summer school on ‘Dark Patterns’ (1-6 sept 2019)

Each year, imec-SMIT-VUB co-organizes an interdisciplinary summer school on privacy. This year’s theme: Dark Patterns.

What are ‘dark patterns’?

Gray et al. (2018) define dark patterns as instances in which designers use their knowledge of human behaviour and the desires of end users to implement deceptive functionality that is not in the user’s best interest. In the example below, the option to ‘skip’ sharing the contact details of your friends with Facebook is less visible and more difficult to click than the big blue button that will share your friends’ contact details with Facebook. If you want to understand more about the consequences of this choice, you will need to read the ‘boring’ grey text at the bottom and click through for more information. Presenting the less privacy-friendly option with happy flowers and phrasing it as ‘better with friends’, Facebook nudges you to share more information. All this, of course, while you are just in the middle of getting started with a new app.

About the summer school

The summer school focuses on dark patterns that impact users’ privacy or their ability to practice their data protection rights. The summer school is interdisciplinary, involving computer science, law and social sciences / media and communication studies.

The school lasts one week, with nine lectures of two hours each, equally distributed over the three disciplines. The lectures will lay the grounds for an interdisciplinary conversation among students and lecturers. The remaining time is used for hands-on working group sessions to study practical cases. The cases will be offered by businesses, governments, government-related institutions (like DPAs) and civil society/NGOs.

The summer school is aimed at PhD students from computer science, law and social sciences. Participants are awarded two ECTS and will receive a certificate of attendance issued by the Radboud University.

Information and registration

For more information or registration, visit