More about OCA and how it affects users

OCA techniques are used to condition user actions

In this article we continue to explain more about OCA and how it affects users. We do it by following A study published by the Mozilla Foundation to explain how big tech companies condition users to discourage them from using competing products.

OCA is the acronym for Online Choice Architecture and encompasses a series of design techniques focused on influencing users to make certain decisions making it easier to do than opt for one of the alternatives.

If you don't want to read this article or the previous five that I dedicated to analyzing the document of the Mozilla Foundation I can summarize it for you in one sentence: «The dog ate my homework and the teacher hates me». I do not intend to deny the anticompetitive practices of the five big technology companies (Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple and Meta)Much less when I have been covering for years the accusations against them from the American and European authorities. However, my opinion is that these practices did not have as much influence on the Firefox debacle as its authors would have us believe.

However, since it is probably true that they use them, It is worth talking about them.

More about the OCA

It is known that nothing convinces people as much as including quotes from competent authorities to support our claims. Nobody probably bothers to find out what they actually said and whether it applies to the case at hand. To tell us more about the Oca, The Mozilla Foundation turns to the UK Competition and Markets Authority, which has dedicated a study to the subject. The study publishes a table with the classification of the techniques used, although they are not developed. If instead, some examples are cited, but not for all of them, so one could ask why they put the table.

Surely so that I waste time translating, copying and pasting and then having to delete it.

How operating systems condition the choice of users

Depending on the order in which the different options are presented on the device, it can be determined which applications and settings are likely to be more visible. consumers and which ones are easier to access.

The study uses as an example an investigation by the European Commission in which it was discovered that Microsoft, in the browser selection screen that was forced to include causes Edge to be preselected. In addition, a padlock is included to suggest that this option guarantees greater security.

In Windows 11 he took the practice further. Users were able to see a message suggesting to use the recommended browser options which of course referred to opting for Edge. To make the idea clear, the phrase was highlighted in blue and the corresponding button was preselected. And, in case you didn't understand that that's what you have to do, next to the button was the familiar verification icon.

The following example provided by Mozilla is the unnecessarily complex way to change the default browser in iOS14. The curious thing about the case is that they illustrate it with the Brave browser.

I must confess that the thing does not seem too complex either.

  1. In the configuration tab, click on the chosen browser.
  2. In the drop-down menu of the default browser, the corresponding option is selected.

With Android they do something absolutely strange, which is to demonstrate how complicated it is to make Firefox stop being the default browser option. With which they achieve exactly the opposite. Demonstrate how easy it is to make it so.

In fact, they spent the entire study saying that Google forces you to use Chrome on Android when the objectionable thing is that Google doesn't let you uninstall it. It can be uninstalled and the browser you have installed remains as the default option.

In the next article we will see what more surprises this work of Mozilla holds for us.

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