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    There is nothing immoral about this.

    Nobody forces you to play stupid anti-fun games on your smartphone. I don’t. Many people I know don’t.

    If ‘manipulating people’ i.e. doing things that convince them to do the things you want them to do is immoral, then advertising and dialogue are immoral. Putting sugar or salt in your food is immoral. Smiling at people is immoral.

    We are all adults that can make our own choices.

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      There is a spectrum of manipulation. As much as people want to believe it to be so, almost nothing is black and white. Take a movie or a novel. These are expected to be manipulative: they are conveying a story which should make us feel, make us think, and present the philosophies of the author(s) while doing so. Even here there is “good manipulative” and “bad manipulative,” though. A well-done story is called “evocative,” “atmospheric,” “moving,” or “deep.” A poorly-done one might be called a “tear-jerker,” meaning that the author just crudely yanks the strings that make us sad without conveying any genuine emotion; or a horror movie might be dismissed as cliched because it relies on jump scares (which make us jump, but have no “substance”).

      Similarly, person-to-person dialogue might be “persuasive” or “well-argued,” or it might simply be “manipulative.” There is a distinct continuum of quality there; most of the study of rhetoric is aimed at improving your performance in the delivery of the first two types of argument.

      Now, thinking about these subjects in the context of modern advertising, compare the arguments delivered by these vehicles. As crude as They Live! was, it was prescient in this: the messages boil down to “CONSUME!” “BUY!” “PLAY LONGER!”—things that have no possibility of edifying the viewer or improving their life. The UX “dark patterns” that have now become common, as well as addictive game loops, are all aimed simply at delivering more advertising messages of this form.

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        If ‘manipulating people’ i.e. doing things that convince them to do the things you want them to do is immoral, then advertising [is] immoral.

        You’re so close to getting it. Just keep thinking!