The video streaming service Netflix stands accused of using altered artwork to suggest that the films star black people in order to attract more viewership. Depending on the demographic, it appears Netflix advertises edited versions of video covers to match the target audience. The practice seems to be intended to trick black demographics into thinking that films start black actors.
<img src="https://media.8ch.net/file_store/2199b5febf3905690c56155e6aa503d5e57cee256f550ffd7cfda679e6bb30f5.jpg" style="max-height:640px;max-width:360px;">
<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">@odetrill/slb79 | Twitter</span>
The massive streaming service has been accused of "deceiving" black subscribers with "manipulative"' promotional posters for films and TV shows. When black subscribers browsed their Netflix for movies, they found more films had artwork displaying black actors than others. The same film has alternative artwork featuring the actual stars of the film who are white.
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Netflix has always bragged about their algorithms and how they can serve up personalized suggestions and visuals to its users, but now it is altering film artwork to match the ethnicity of the user? That perhaps brings us to the scariest aspect of all, how do they even know what your ethnicity is? It could be a scanner or camera in a video game station or a smart TV, or it could be personal details purchased through third-party applications or maybe Netflix's algorithm can even determine your race.
Twitter users pointed out that films such as "Like Father" with stars Kelsey Grammer and Kristen Bell showed two variants of artwork with actors of opposite ethnicity depending on the ethnicity of the user browsing the video. Another film which appears to have been "altered" includes the British classic "Love Actually."
The two Caucasian female actresses start in the comedy "Like Father, but rather than showcasing the film's leads it shows some subscribers a version of the artwork with African-American actors Blaire Brooks and Leanard Ouzts.
<img src="https://media.8ch.net/file_store/36bfa9b3bdecb3da8fafbdb6208b47cd327e59420918c8d585966b7e9a783f6c.jpg" style="max-height:640px;max-width:360px;">
<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">@slb79j | Twitter</span>
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In the case of "Love Actually," the two characters in the artwork are a black actor and a white actress despite the film featuring predominantly white actors. This version seems to imply to certain subscribers that it is a romance centered on characters played by Keira Knightley and Oscar-winning star Chiwetel Ejiofor yet they only have minor roles in the film.
The founder and editor of a lifestyle magazine that is focused on women of color said that the algorithms being used by Netflix were "beyond deceptive." As with recent tone-deaf PR debacles, I won't be surprised if it stems from not having the right people around the table. Yes, when I'm scrolling through, looking for what to watch, I instinctively stop when I see black characters highlighted as the lead as that's what I want to watch.
It's beyond deceptive to think that I am being manipulated based on my so-called algorithm choices. Why don't they give us more of what we want instead - black leads in big budget productions? In every other sphere, clear signage is the rule. Why should it be different with film and TV promotions?
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Just did another cursory scroll of suggested watches and the posters they gave me. <a href="https://t.co/VoCFJQfWaK">pic.twitter.com/VoCFJQfWaK</a></p>— stacia l. brown (@slb79) <a href="https://twitter.com/slb79/status/1052953490664935424?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 18, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Netflix claims its algorithms are purely based on viewing history, although it's not clear how viewing history could affect the artwork of a film. Move fans pointed to another example from the 1997 film "Good Will Hunting" would show comedy fans a poster featuring the late Robin Williams while those who liked romance films got an artwork with Minnie Driver and Matt Damon.
When asked about the latest accusations about personalized artwork based on race Netflix said, "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."
A Twitter user named Stacia Brown wrote, "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." Another user named Jeff Wetherell was equally as critical saying, "It's not marketing. Marketing would be pushing you movie posters of actual movies with black leads. This is creepy. This is more insidious."
"It doesn't help their bottom line. You watch the first five minutes then realize it's not what it claims."
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