Welcome to another issue of the EU Bubble Insider!
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In the first 2023 issue of our newsletter we bring to you:
- Insider podcast with Anna Gumbau, EU energy and climate journalist
- The Molecule 2023 Forecast – most prominent trends for the coming year
- EU Elections 2023 Calendar printout
- What are dark patterns on social media?
- EU Bubble event recommendations
- Links to articles and reports worth reading
Do you have any thoughts or suggestions? Just reply to this email. I would love to hear from you.
Enjoy reading and watching!
Krzysztof Bulski & Molecule Group
In this second episode of the EU Bubble Insider Podcast, we speak with Anna Gumbau, EU Climate & Energy Journalist, Event Moderator and Podcaster. We discussed topics such as what makes a good debate moderator, how to build good relationships between journalists and their sources, and gender equality in energy and climate policy debates.
Watch the interview on YouTube:
or listen to it on Soundcloud:
While 2022 was coming to a close, companies and professionals from various fields did their best to predict what trends shape the year 2023. In order to step into the new year adequately prepared and informed, we read up to 30 analysed forecasts of 2023 so you don’t have to:
Most of the leading actors in Brussels predict that the war in Ukraine will still define the political situation in Europe. The energy crisis will remain in focus for most of the decision-makers on the national as well as EU levels. Energy market dynamics for Europe in 2023 will be as challenging as in 2022. Natural gas storage will be completely depleted by the spring while little new import capacity will be available. Consequently, momentum has shifted from phasing out natural gas to reducing emissions from natural gas while cleaner alternatives are developed and deployed. Increases in natural gas investment are expected in 2023, including investments that reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity of natural gas and related infrastructure. Read more about the oil and gas industry outlook here.
Another Important political trend to follow in Brussels will be the EU decision to eliminate the unanimous vote and veto power of member states. Hungary and Poland have been pointed out as one of the reasons for this push, while Emmanuel Macron and Ursula von der Leyen have been wary of EU voting mechanisms and have called for change. Orban’s ties with Putin are problematic — and even a single actor in the EU can continue to widen internal divisions at a time when unity and solidarity are of utmost importance.
The topic of cyber-security is expected to dominate the business environment in 2023. Cyber-security threats will continue to evolve and remain a prominent danger for public and private sector organisations. The speed and sophistication of cyberattacks in general will likely continue accelerating. According to the Kroll institute, we should particularly watch out for ransomware attacks (a fast-evolving cyber attack that blocks access to a computer system until a ‘ransom’ is paid). As a result, having networks subject to continuous security monitoring by experienced specialists are moving from being a good idea to a clear best practice. Developments in the previous year showed that cryptocurrency and decentralised finance (DeFi) are likely to be targets of cybercriminals so keeping networks up to date on security patches will continue to be a vital part of 2023.
2023 is expected to lead to even larger adoption of Web3 as many will realise the benefits of the system. With the ‘crypto winter’ and industry scandals rounded out the previous year, legislators are working on how to regulate the market while making sure not to stifle Web3 innovation. Similarly, the metaverse continues on the rise, captivating people around the world. As per Grand View Research, the global metaverse market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 39.4% from 2022 to 2030. From gaming to socialising, many are tapping into the growing market to explore the endless possibilities that the virtual world can offer.
Influencers will continue to dominate the world of online marketing in 2023. As described by Coegi, influencers are becoming the new word-of-mouth marketing. Social media creators drive full-funnel results for brands and organisations, and they’re expected to continue growing larger in this upcoming year. It is predicted that TikTok will hold the largest share of influencer marketing.
Still curious to know more about the year ahead? We compiled a selection of over 20 reports for 2023, which you can find by following this link.
In order to make it easier to stay on top of significant political ongoings in Europe, we designed an infographic which includes all major 2023 Elections within the EU. With this calendar on your wall, you will always know which elections are around the corner – useful for impressing your colleagues over coffee break, or weaving it into your content planning! You can download and print an A4 version of the full infographic here.
The manipulation of people’s personal data happens all over the Internet. We can find it in most online environments, but especially in social media platforms. In order to address this issue, last year the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) released guidelines titled Dark Patterns in Social Media Platform Interfaces: How to recognize and avoid them.
What exactly are dark patterns?
The Guidelines define dark patterns as interfaces and user experiences implemented on social media platforms that lead users into making unintended, unwilling and potentially harmful decisions regarding the processing of their personal data. Dark patterns aim to hinder users’ ability to make a conscious choice with respect to their personal data and ultimately exploit it without the users’ consent.
In the document, The EDPB has recognised six major categories of dark patterns:
1. Overloading occurs when users are confronted with a lot of requests, choices or are bombarded with information to push the user to share more data or to unintentionally allow personal data to be processed against their expectations. Examples of overloading are:
- Continuous prompting – Repeatedly asking users to provide more data than necessary
- Too many options – With too many options to choose from, the user will inevitably overlook some settings or give up data protection preferences, unable to make any choice at all.
2. Skipping happens when the interface has been purposefully designed to distract users from worrying about the protection of their personal data. For example:
- Deceptive snugness – When websites pre-select the most intrusive privacy settings as default settings.
- Look over there – Distracting users from data protection issues using distracting language or presenting irrelevant information.
3. Stirring uses wording and visuals in a way that influences users’ emotional states and leads them to act against their data protection interests. This dark pattern has a higher impact on children and other vulnerable categories of data subjects.
- Emotional steering – conveying information in either highly positive or highly negative ways in order to evoke extreme feelings.
- Hidden in plain sight – visual styles that nudge users toward less restrictive, i.e. more invasive options.
4. Hindering prevents users from obtaining information or managing their data by making these actions excessively difficult or impossible. Examples are:
- Dead end – while looking for information or controls, the user ends up not finding it because a redirection link is missing or doesn’t work at all
- Longer than necessary – making the path to choosing data protections more difficult by adding unnecessary steps, while making the more invasive options more accessible
5. Fickle is based on unreadable and unclear interface design. Consequently, users struggle to understand the mechanisms and purposes of the data processing. This pattern includes:
- Lacking hierarchy – the same data protection information appears several times but is presented differently, effectively confusing users
- Decontextualizing – Important privacy information is located on a page that is out of context, so that users have difficulties finding it
6. Left in the dark refers to interface design which conceals information or data protection controls from users, leaving them unsure what control they have over it
- Linguistic discontinuity – information on privacy protection is not provided in the official language(s) of the country where the user lives.
- Conflicting information – providing the user with contradictory information to push them into keeping the default (invasive) privacy settings.
- Ambiguous wording or information – The terminology used is deliberately vague and ambiguous to confuse users
Dark patterns follow users through all the stages of the life cycle of a social media account. Hence, it’s important to be aware of what tactics big platforms can employ to manipulate us into giving up our personal data. As stressed by the EDPB, dark patterns may not only constitute unlawful interference in the sphere of privacy of social media users, they can also violate consumer protection regulations. Hence, businesses who engage in data collection through social media and websites should analyse their activities and processes so as to determine whether any could be interpreted as deceptive or manipulative, to ensure that their users are able to make informed decisions about sharing their data. The complete set of guidelines is available here.
According to The Verge, Twitter is said to “expand” the political advertising it allows on the platform in the coming weeks in an effort to make up for lost revenue. Can this change really facilitate public conversation around politics?
Tim McPhie, the spokesperson for climate action and energy at the European Commission, published a list of 18 job tips after 18 years of working in Brussels. He shares his insights on timing, connecting with people, and many more.
Anyone working in lobbying or campaigning needs to be fluent in the language of persuasion. To help his fellow persuaders, Aaron McLoughlin wrote an article where he shares his seven ways to sell your policy to officials and politicians.