UPDATED: 1:42 p.m. EDT — A representative for Netflix contacted NewsOne and asked that its complete statement be included in this news article.
“Reports that we look at demographics when personalizing artwork are untrue. We don’t ask members for their race, gender or ethnicity so we cannot use this information to personalize their individual Netflix experience,” the statement said. “The only information we use is a member’s viewing history. In terms of thumbnails, these do differ and regularly change. This is to ensure that the images we show people are useful in deciding which shows to watch.”
Some Black viewers are giving Netflix the serious side-eye after they have been duped into watching predominately white movies that appear to have a Black cast.
Stacia L Brown, the writer and creator of the podcast “Hope Chest,” wrote on Twitter, “Other Black @netflix users: does your queue do this? Generate posters with the Black cast members on them to try to compel you to watch? This film stars Kristen Bell/Kelsey Grammer and these actors had maaaaaybe a 10 cumulative minutes of screen time. 20 lines between them, tops.”
However, according to The Guardian, this is just Netflix’s crafty way of marketing. “Last December, Netflix rolled out a new algorithm to begin serving up personalised images to its now 137 million subscriber-base,” reported The Guardian. “‘Artwork personalisation’ became a priority after the company’s own research proved that it was the biggest influencing factor on a viewer deciding what to watch, constituting 82% of their focus. Multiple images are now generated for each and every title and change regularly to lure audiences depending on their tastes and previous viewing history.”
However, London podcast host Tolani Shoneye told The Guardian, “It’s intrusive. It’s the dark side of marketing. I noticed it a while ago with a Zac Efron film that I’d already seen, but Netflix kept showing me it as a Michael B. Jordan movie.”
Netflix released the following statement, “We don’t ask members for their race, gender or ethnicity so we cannot use this information to personalise their individual Netflix experience. The only information we use is a member’s viewing history.”
Of course Netflix doesn’t ask for your racial background, but using a member’s viewing history to dupe the Black viewers into watching a 95 percent white film is false advertising. Netflix needs to do better — or maybe create more Black, original content.