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Of Course Netflix Knows What You’re Watching

Dave Parrack 12-12-2017

Netflix has been criticized for a tweet suggesting 53 people have watched The Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days. Some people seem surprised Netflix knows what its users watch, and others are taking the streaming service to task for what they’re calling “public shaming”.


In actual fact, this is a non-story. Everyone who uses Netflix is well aware it knows exactly what you have watched. And as for the “public shaming” it’s not as though Netflix has named the individual users who have, for reasons only they know, decided to watch the same film on repeat.

Netflix Tweets a Joke

Netflix recently published a press released titled “2017 on Netflix – A Year in Bingeing“. This revealed that Netflix users “watched more than 140 million hours per day” in 2017, and that someone watched Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl “365 days in a row”.

No one really paid much attention to this press release, and certainly didn’t see anything wrong with it. That was until Netflix also tweeted: “To the 53 people who’ve watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days: Who hurt you?” Which we believe was an attempt at humor.

And then people got angry, and started replying to the tweet suggesting Netflix was somehow intruding on people’s privacy by revealing this fact. TechCrunch even wrote an article about it, suggesting that Netflix was “creeping” on everyone. All based entirely on a lighthearted tweet.


Netflix Defends Itself

Netflix has since felt the need to defend itself from these attacks, making it clear that “This information represents overall viewing trends, not the personal viewing information of specific, identified individuals.” A statement Netflix had already included at the end of the press release.

Of course Netflix knows what you watch. Otherwise how would it recommend other content to watch based on your viewing habits? And really, does anyone care that Netflix knows you binge-watched Stranger Things over a weekend, or struggled to wrap your head around Black Mirror?

As for the “public shaming,” Netflix hasn’t named and shamed, or pointed and laughed. It has merely revealed a statistic and lightheartedly pondered what is driving those people to watch the same content day after day. Especially when there are other Christmas movies on Netflix The 10 Best Christmas Movies on Netflix to Watch This Year Want to relax, have a good laugh, and feel sentimental over the holidays? Here are the best Christmas movies on Netflix! Read More .

Netflix Stands Strong

I really hope Netflix doesn’t feel pressured to delete this tweet, or fire the individual responsible for writing it. Which is what some people are openly advocating. Surely calling for someone to lose their job two weeks before Christmas is worse than anything Netflix has tweeted.

Did you see this tweet from Netflix? Or the controversy that followed? How do you feel about it all? Are you surprised to learn Netflix tracks what its users watch? Or did you feel the mocking tone of the tweet was unnecessary? Please let us know in the comments below!

Image Credit: Jenny Cestnik via Flickr

Related topics: Big Data, Media Streaming, Netflix, Online Privacy.

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  1. Gazoo
    December 12, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    I like how you portray Netflix as a kind of living inanimate object. I guess this is how people cope with issues too large for them to handle.

    Aren't you the least bit curious how many people have access to this information, who they are, what kind of details are available to them? Doesn't the idea that an old co-worker, your neighbor or other person known to you might be one of the countless(?) people with access to your viewing habits and other personal details?

    Are you not able to inquire about the bigger issues? Random or someone known to you with access to your data (and what they might do with it) working for your cell company, working at your place of employment, the hospital you visit... What does Netflix do to protect individual data? What do these companies do in general?

    Did you even think about this before "coping" in your own way? Hiding on the bed does not answer these questions in a field where there is NO accountability - legal or otherwise.

    I'm not a Netflix user myself but it would be interesting to see how you might react if you found out that "Netflix" (this vague, inanimate object you use to cope) goofing on and publicizing your personal details on twitter. Right now it was about a group of people watching a particular movie in an obsessive way. Next time, it might be about YOU personally and we can all have a good laugh about it. I can hardly wait.