Illusive Design Pattern


Interactions, exposure and reach are restricted after investing attention.


Optimizing algorithms without feedback for retention.


  • Content and interactions that the user is familiar with and relies upon suddenly change with no feedback. Examples include follower count lowered from bot removal and search results updates.
  • Algorithm promotes posting a lot to not lose out. The exposure and visibility is determined not by the quality, but by how active you are and the number of followers. The less you use a platform, the less you’ll appear in search results.
  • Buying followers.
  • Products like Twitter and Instagram limit the exposure of content for money.
  • Products like Twitter allowing the use of bots to drive engagement.
  • Fear of reading reviews or medical symptoms due to disproportionate number of complaints.
  • Products like Facebook primed users when adding their own email address as default.
  • Products like OKCupid uses their algorithm to manipulate what profiles users see.
  • Intentionally limiting a users reach without feedback, also known as shadow-banning.

Post-AI Altruheuristics

  • Negativity Bias
  • Loss Aversion
  • Anxiety: Unexpected changes bring uncertainty.
  • Status Play: Lowered if losing followers causing negative emotions.
CBT Distortions
  • Personalization e.g. Did I do something wrong?
  • Overgeneralization e.g. I’m always screwing up.
  • Jumping to Conclusions e.g. Is it because of me?
Circ's Principles
  • Transparency: Reduce anxiety by removing uncertainty and explaining algorithm updates.
Mental Health


Pre-AI Heuristics

Dark Patterns




Graphic Design


Don Norman Principles
  • Feedback: None is provided.
Jakob Nielson Principles
  • User Control: No choice is provided and impact is immediate.