Racial Personalization of Netflix

How is Netflix affecting the things that you see?

Personalization has always been a feature we have been exposed to through various platforms. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, advertisements, and many more. But did we ever think Netflix would adopt that by taking a different approach? Netflix has been caught in a storm where personalized images are being created to various viewers to promote the movie. What does that mean?


Netflix Controversy

Netflix has been caught in some controversy over possibly skewing marketing based on the assumed race of the viewer. What that basically means is they do not directly ask the audience for their race but will use the content you watch to personalize your pages according to your interested racial choices. So, if you watch a lot of shows with black characters, Netflix will try to ensure each cover image you see has a black person on it as a means to entice you to watch those shows and movies, even if they are not the stars.

Netflix responded to this controversy on Forbes by saying “We don’t ask members for their race, gender or ethnicity, so we cannot use this information to personalize their individual Netflix experience. The only information we use is a member’s viewing history.” However, many on the internet have expressed their opinions on this topic.

But, artwork personalization is not something that Netflix just discovered. This has been a way to promote activity for many companies. It makes the content that individuals receive more crucial to the right people. Below is an example from The Medium showing how different people see the movie with different covers:

The controversy arose when Netflix started using race as a way to promote content to viewers. Especially when the image includes actors that are not the main stars of the movie but are under the racial preference of the viewers.


Questions that I have:

Here are some questions that have come to mind:

  • Is this necessarily a bad update?
  • Is this just a marketing act?
  • Why have Netflix made this feature available to people?
  • Will my content be so limiting now, restricting the exploration of further interests?
  • How are they making these assumptions, as well, should I be worried about my privacy?

In my opinion, I am not sure whether this is upsetting me or making movies on Netflix more appealing. I feel like personalization might make my hours of scrolling through the database turn into minutes of searching for a movie. But, at the same time, there seems to be a part of me that feels targeted and objectified by Netflix.

What are your thoughts? Let us know through our social media platforms @Kultur.d