Fudges & Libertarian Cataclysm
Stated simply, what I call a Fudge is a default option that well… fudges you.
A Fudge is a default option that fudges you.
The latest example I have is from my bank — Commonwealth Bank of Australia — informing me I’ve been opted-in to a new default. The email informing me of default recites:
Your CommBank transaction account comes with an overdraw feature, meaning that we may honour certain types of payments that cause your account balance to unexpectedly fall below zero.”
Leaving the overdraw feature on
- If we allow you to overdraw your account a $10 overdrawing approval fee will apply. This fee is charged only once per day regardless of the number of overdraw transactions honoured that day.
- Interest at 17.94% p.a. will also apply.
What this means is that if ever I don’t have enough money in my account, the bank will take the payment anyway and charge me $10/day and 17.94% yearly interest, de facto obligating me to opt into a credit card. The sneakiest Fudge I have encountered yet.
There are many other examples of Fudges. As I mentioned in my article about why I quit Facebook a while back, Youtube’s Autoplay button is one of the biggest ones.
The autoplay button will not give you a break and suck up your time like nothing else and it will radicalise your taste. Some associations such as the Center for Humane technology have started taking action to fix this, and the wave of dis-adopters leaves me hopeful to see future platforms getting fixed.
As a pun in opposition to Libertarian Paternalism, my definition of Libertarian Cataclysm is the idea that it is (unfortunately) possible and legitimate for private and public institutions to negatively affect behaviour while not respecting freedom of choice.
Nobody likes to be Fudged, but unfortunately the world is full of Fudgers. It is up to us as designers avoid leading people to bad outcomes; as humans to raise Fudge awareness, in the hope that Libertarian Cataclysm will be prevented from hitting defenceless humans.
Words of thanks
As tradition, I’d like to thank Caity for the Oxford commas (as well as high-fives and hand-shakes!) and Lisi for encouraging me to write!