Netflix Accused Of Targeting Viewers Based On Race. Company Denies It.

Netflix has now been accused of targeting viewers based on their race by changing the marketing promotions according to the person's skin tone.
Last week, controversy erupted on social media when several Netflix customers began alleging on Twitter that the streaming platform tailors the marketing promos based on race. Stacia L Brown, the writer and creator of the podcast "Hope Chest," said that her Netflix queue inexplicably showed an overwhelming number of movie posters with black cast members.
Brown wrote: "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 maaaaaybe a 10 cumulative minutes of screen time. 20 lines between them, tops."
"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," she continued. "A very white movie. I’d already watched this one last month so I knew it was a marketing trick. Still."
According to The Guardian, Netflix rolled out a new algorithm last year with the specific intent to personalize the film posters. "Last December, Netflix rolled out a new algorithm to begin serving up personalized images to its now 137 million subscriber-base," reports the outlet. "‘Artwork personalization’ became a priority after the company’s own research proved that it was the biggest influencing factor on a viewer deciding what to watch, constituting 82% of their focus. Multiple images are now generated for each and every title and change regularly to lure audiences depending on their tastes and previous viewing history."
London podcast host Tolani Shoneye countered that by saying the marketing is "intrusive."
"It’s intrusive. It’s the dark side of marketing," said Tolani. "I noticed it a while ago with a Zac Efron film that I’d already seen, but Netflix kept showing to me it as a Michael B. Jordan movie."
Netflix has now denied ever specifically personalizing an ad to target a demographic.
"Reports that we look at demographics when personalizing artwork are untrue," a Netflix spokesperson said in an email to The Hollywood Reporter.
"We don't ask members for their race, gender or ethnicity so we cannot use this information to personalize their individual Netflix experience," the spokesperson continued. "The only information we use is a member's viewing history. In terms of thumbnails, these do differ and regularly change. This is to ensure that the images we show people are useful in deciding which shows to watch."
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. From CNN:
Netflix has spent massive amounts of money to build its streaming empire. Now it is looking toward debt markets to fund even more shows.
The streaming service announced Monday that it plans to take on $2 billion in new debt by offering unsecured bank notes.
The money will be used for "general corporate purposes." Netflix (NFLX) says that could include content acquisitions and production costs, along with other investments.
It's the third time in a year that Netflix has raised debt this way. Last October, the company offered $1.6 billion in notes. There was another round in April for $1.9 billion.
The controversy will undoubtedly quell soon enough and the company can go back to raking in the cash from its 137 million subscribers.
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