Facebook, Google and Microsoft push users away from privacy-friendly options on their services in an “unethical” way, according to a report by the Norwegian Consumer Council.
It studied the privacy settings of the firms and found a series of “dark patterns”, including intrusive default settings and misleading wording.
The firms gave users “an illusion of control”, its report suggested.
Both Google and Facebook said user privacy was important to them.
The report – Deceived by Design – was based on user tests which took place in April and May, when all three firms were making changes to their privacy policies to be in compliance with the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).