Netflix Accused of Targeting Black Users With Misleading Posters

Lawrence Kim
October 23, 2018

Ejiofor is the sole black actor in the film. "20 lines between them, tops", she said, describing a poster for the film "Like Father". Brown, who is African American, noted that Netflix showed her an image featured Leonard Ouzts and Blaire Brooks, black actors with relatively minor roles in the film Like Father, a comedy staring white actors Kristen Bell and Kelsey Grammer.

Writer Stacia L Brown pointed out the discrepancy between the posters for her suggested films and the actual stars.

A representative for Netflix contacted NewsOne and asked that its complete statement be included in this news article.

Netflix has been accused of targeting black users with posters that replace white leads with secondary black cast members. They know I want to see those stories.

"We don't ask members for their race, gender or ethnicity so we can not use this information to personalize their individual Netflix experience", the spokesperson continued. Netflix recently introduced a new algorithm which provides "personalised images" to its 37 million subscribers worldwide.

It maintained the only information it uses is a person's viewing history.

Londoner Tolani Shoneye, who hosts a podcast said: 'It's intrusive.

In its statement to Newsbeat, the streaming site said that "reports that we look at demographics when personalising artwork are untrue".

One Twitter user called @UnironicFlannel wrote: "I hear you 100% I also think this is closer to the intersection of regular creepy marketing and dark patterns/social engineering than most targeting efforts. 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 has, in the past, been upfront about its use of personalized artwork.

Netflix released the following statement, "We don't ask members for their race, gender or ethnicity so we can not use this information to personalise their individual Netflix experience". In terms of thumbnails, these do differ and regularly change. But one of the subtle tools it uses to deliver suggestions - carefully selected artwork or images, created to entice the user to watch a movie or TV series based on past viewing - became the focus of online criticism.

The controversy could not come at a worse time for Netflix, which just took on another $2 billion in debt to bankroll its reach to become the streaming empire it aspires to.

It's the third time in a year that Netflix has raised debt this way. The accusation leveled at the company is that their algorithm will select which picture is shown to the viewer using previous viewing choices, misrepresenting the material on offer.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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