Netflix has been accused of ‘misleading’ black users by showing promotional shots of black cast members in films and TV shows – even if they had a minor role
Netflix has denied the allegations, saying ‘we don’t ask members for race, gender or ethnicity so cannot use this information to personalise their individual experience.’
‘The only information we use is a member’s viewing history.’
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 maaaaybe a 10 cumulative minutes of screen time. 20 lines between them, tops. pic.twitter.com/Sj7rD8wfOS— stacia l. brown (@slb79) October 18, 2018
It’s weird to try to pass a film off as having a Black principal cast (by creating a movie poster-like as featuring just the Black people) when it’s a white movie. A very white movie. I’d already watched this one last month so I knew it was a marketing trick. Still.— stacia l. brown (@slb79) October 18, 2018
The amount of films I have gone to watch, thinking it was a black cast. Only for sis to only have a walk-on role. https://t.co/U9bLXWg1F9— Tolly (@tolly_t) October 19, 2018
Netflix points to its very open artwork personalisation practice as the reason for the difference in what people see, based on their view history.
In a blog published in 2017, Netflix revealed it was launching artwork personalisation for its films and TV shows.
It explained various promotional shots would be created for the shows and films and they would be linked to viewing history.
Last year, the site explained how different images may appear for different users
In its statement to Newsbeat, the streaming site said that ‘reports that we look at demographics when personalising artwork are untrue.’
It maintained the only information it uses is a person’s viewing history.
‘In terms of thumbnails, these do differ and regularly change. This is to ensure the images we show people are useful in deciding which shows to watch.
‘We are always trying to learn from our members and looking for ways to improve how we personalise the service over time.’