back to article Netflix silent about ridicule as it discusses punters' viewing habits

A tweet sent in jest from Netflix's official Twitter account on Sunday evening has called the company's data practices into question. "To the 53 people who've watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days: Who hurt you?" a company representative said, via the social media and election-swaying service. To the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "To the 53 people who've watched.... Who hurt you?"

    This is why I don't use Netflix! The smug tweet reminds me of Uber and its one-night stand analysis... Done primarily because its 'amusing' or just because Netflix can! Will GDPR prevent invasive novelty slurp like this?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. dan1980

        Re: 'because its 'amusing' or just because Netflix can!'

        Sadly, your stance means nothing because you are in the minority. (As I am.)

        Services that abuse our data are more popular than ever and show no sign of slowing. Services and products previous available for purchase and consumption anonymously are fast moving into 'connected' and 'cloud-based' systems and the options available to those few objectors are drying up.

        Even where products are available 'offline', you can sometimes need to give up your privacy. Look at video games on PC. Yes, you can still go and buy a game off the shelf using a stack of crumpled notes but, when you go to install it, you need to go and sign up for Steam (or an equivalent service) anyway.

        How long before movies bought from the local store need your player to connect to the Internet to register the movie to your account before you can watch it?

        There's nothing inherently wrong with being connected but the all-you-can-slurp buffet that lobbying has created puts everyone at risk.

        It's difficult to explain this to ordinary people who love Netflix and Facebook and their smart phones and Uber trips and, even if they understood, they wouldn't care because they like the convenience and features and don't feel they will ever actually be impacted by any of the negatives.

        People need to consider what would happen if, 5 years from now, every bit of information collected on them by these services was broadcast. Every movie and TV show they ever watched and from where. Every trip they took. Every post and tweet and snap. Every game they played, when and for how long. Even vast portions of their browser and search history and, better still, their every move, tracked by the undefeatable GPS service reporting back to Apple or Google.

        Everything time-stamped and geo-tagged.

        It is all there - collected, stored, exchanged and collated. And it's just waiting to be abused, leaked and stolen.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: 'because its 'amusing' or just because Netflix can!'

          Well said, Dan. I find it appalling what personal information people will give up for something free, low cost, and/or transitory. I believe this is the tip of a very big iceberg that's going to hit hard in future. Be it private companies collecting the data or the government. Someone, somewhere will decide that this data can be used in a not pleasant way to further their own interests.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 'because its 'amusing' or just because Netflix can!'

          "Even where products are available 'offline', you can sometimes need to give up your privacy."

          I recently bought a Stanley cordless drill. It came with a 12 month warranty - but also offered a 3 year warranty if you registered online. I read the privacy T&Cs on the web site and decided it was saying they could do whatever they liked with my personal data and email address.

          I'll take my chances that it will fail in years 2 or 3. Even then UK consumer protection could cover an expectation of a 3 year life for the product.

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            3 year warranty if you registered online

            couldnt you just use a sacrificial email address and make the rest of the shit up?

            1. SundogUK

              Re: 3 year warranty if you registered online

              If you did that and then needed to claim on the extended warranty, I think you will find that providing false data invalidates it.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: 3 year warranty if you registered online

                providing false data

                What's false about a one-shot email address ?

                In my case I own my domain firstnamelastname.com. So whatever@firstnamelastname.com will always be received ... (if not read).

                I can highly recommend setting up your own email server ... because then you can track where email addresses you generate get used.

                I look forward to being able to monetarise this information come GDPR. Because right now, it seems no one is playing fair ....

                1. cambsukguy

                  Re: 3 year warranty if you registered online

                  Are we to presume that the first name and last name are not your actual names?

                  Otherwise, I doubt any made-up email on that domain will be anonymous.

                2. Duffy Moon

                  Re: 3 year warranty if you registered online

                  "I can highly recommend setting up your own email server"

                  I have seen people say this before. Out of interest, what is the approximate cost of doing that?

                  1. JohnFen Silver badge

                    Re: 3 year warranty if you registered online

                    I had an old computer sitting in my garage that I repurposed an email server. My total cost: nothing aside from my time.

      2. Snorlax Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: 'because its 'amusing' or just because Netflix can!'

        @AC:"Sheeple vs. Shepherds etc"

        Please don't use the word 'sheeple' to describe people who don't share the same interests as you.

        It just makes you sound like a smug twat.

        The Netflix viewers did nothing wrong here.

        1. Just Enough

          Re: 'because its 'amusing' or just because Netflix can!'

          "It just makes you sound like a smug twat."

          Which is exactly why they should use it. It helps other readers get a better understanding of the person using it, and a better idea of whether everything they say should be ignored.

          There's a whole host of popular, supposed to be witty, tired, words used in online forums that immediately flags an opinion as best ignored. You can probably think of a few yourself. They're very helpful, save time, and should be encouraged.

        2. KeepCalm

          Re: 'because its 'amusing' or just because Netflix can!'

          "Please don't use the word 'sheeple' to describe people who don't share the same interests as you."

          Can we start using the word "peeptards" instead?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "To the 53 people who've watched.... Who hurt you?"

      "Will GDPR prevent invasive novelty slurp like this?"

      Nope GDPR won't make any difference to this. They didn't identify anyone in particular with their statement. Also the viewing data can easily be held on a separate database from any private user data, which from a corporate perspective means the viewing data by itself is then pretty anonymous and can be played with freely (especially in aggregate).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "To the 53 people who've watched.... Who hurt you?"

        No only didn't they identify anyone the chances are it's not even real data and is part of the 73.6% of statistics made up on the spot.

        1. VinceH Silver badge

          Re: "To the 53 people who've watched.... Who hurt you?"

          "No only didn't they identify anyone the chances are it's not even real data and is part of the 73.6% of statistics made up on the spot."

          If not that, then it's equally possible that it's simply usage statistics/logs from the film itself, rather than based on an analysis of logs of subscriber accounts. (And that would be far easier that trawling individual account data in order to compile the information.)

          In much the same way anyone with a web server might observe (and is free to comment) that 53 people had looked at or downloaded the same web page every day over the last 18 days, without going further into the logs and attempting to trace it back to individuals.

          If so, storm in a teacup.

          Of course, the other extreme - that they have based the data on subscriber account logs - is also a possibility. But personally, I think it's a lot less likely. I think either the above or what AC suggested is more likely.

          1. dan1980

            Re: "To the 53 people who've watched.... Who hurt you?"

            To all who are commenting that this figure is likely either made up or gathered from anonymised data or general logs, that's missing the point.

            First, Netflix absolutely does log everything you watch, when you watch it and from which device. So that data is there whether it was used for this particular stunt or not.

            Second, how they came by the data is less relevant than how they treat it. It is clear that, like Uber, they do not treat this data as private and sensitive and something they should be serious about protecting. It's the way it was used that is indicative of their (Netflix's) attitude - for an 'amusing' advertisement for themselves.

            It's not just saying: these were the most watched movies this week or some other broad statistic, it's specifically talking about habits of particular subscribers.

            Whether it was in jest or not or using personally-identifiable logging or not is not the issue - it's that they treat the personal viewing habits of individuals as just so much data to exploit.

            Don't get me wrong - I'm not surprised in the slightest, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't concern people. The public is all too ready to normalise this type of attitude towards our data and I fear that we are already too far gone down that road to ever return to a place where our sensitive, personally-identifiable information is respected by default.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "To the 53 people who've watched.... Who hurt you?"

      You really think the tweet was about "53 people"? It was a (very successful) netflix promotion. Netflixnetflixnetflixnetflixnetflix is mentioned, discussed, sneered at, condemned, disavowed, commented on at various media, all free of charge, at a price of - nil. Great job!

      1. Daggerchild Silver badge

        Re: "To the 53 people who've watched.... Who hurt you?"

        "It was a (very successful) netflix promotion"

        Well, it was a very successful motion, certainly. The "pro" bit is open to dispute :

        "Hi! Are you the type of person who comes home and cries after bad shit happens, and you watch a favourite something that makes you feel like maybe the world *isn't* full of complete cocks and arseholes? Well come to us, so we can go through your stuff and laugh at you! We will treat you and your precious things with disrespect and scorn, in a way that can't be proved, just like every good psychological tormentor does! And remember, if you leave us, we keep your stuff."

        I think the marketing department may have been spending too much time "winning" on Internet forums to remember the point of their department. A sizeable demographic of teenage girls (and anyone who used to be one) will not have appreciated the above subtext or the inevitable follow-on sorry-not-sorry.

  2. Michael B.

    Amazon affiliate links

    I've supported a few YouTube channels in the past by clicking on the affiliate links and bought things I was going to buy anyway. Recently I've seen a few channels do "The weird things people bought with my affiliate link". Only then did I realise that these channels could get a hold of a list of all the things that were bought via the affiliate link, anonymised, but still a comprehensive list. Somehow this just all felt a little too creepy and I stopped clicking on affiliate links altogether.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Amazon affiliate links

      Are you talking about Tom Scott's youtube channel?

      (for those unfamiliar , its a science and engineering type thing - ideal for reg readers)

      1. Michael B.

        Re: Amazon affiliate links

        Yeah, specifically the Matt and Tom 2nd channel. Though I do thoroughly recommend Tom Scott's channel and especially their QI a like called "Citation Needed" which takes a Wikipedia article that hopefully the panel (same panel everytime) don't know about and ask them questions on it. It's QI without the star egos spoiling things.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Amazon affiliate links

          Though I do thoroughly recommend Tom Scott's channel and especially their QI a like called "Citation Needed" which takes a Wikipedia article that hopefully the panel (same panel everytime) don't know about and ask them questions on it. It's QI without the star egos spoiling things

          Sounds good I will take a look. I like his "Things you may not know" and "Amazing places" series although at 3 or 4 mins they are a bit bitesize, but they are very moorish :)

          Also - his "Try to get on tv as many times as you can in one day in London" video is great.

        2. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Amazon affiliate links

          Yeah, that bit Tom Scott did with the affiliate link purchases opened my eyes, too, and now I no longer click affiliate links for anybody.

          It was also pretty much the video that got me to stop watching Tom Scott. Not that it was that big of a deal all by itself, but that, combined with his painful insistence on pronouncing "gif" as "jife", was a bridge too far.

          1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: Amazon affiliate links

            , combined with his painful insistence on pronouncing "gif" as "jife", was a bridge too far.

            So, how do you pronounce "Giraffe", "Gibberish", "Gin", "Giant", "Ginger"... ?

            A 'g' before an 'i' is a soft-g is the general rule in English (though of course there are exceptions)

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/language/askaboutenglish/2009/06/090825_aae_g.shtml

            The argument that it's "GGraphic, not jraffic" doesn't make sense either - many other acronyms don't fall into that scheme.

            Even Steve Wilnite, the person who created and named GIF, correctly pronounces it with a soft 'g', http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBtKxsuGvko&t=0m45s, so what's your beef with Tom again? :-)

            1. Duffy Moon

              Re: Amazon affiliate links

              "A 'g' before an 'i' is a soft-g is the general rule in English (though of course there are exceptions)"

              Really?! Gimbal, gimlet, gibbon, give, gild, gift (one letter more than gif) and of course git. It doesn't seem like there is much of a general rule there.

              If gif is "jif" then what am I supposed to put on my pancakes,Gamie Gones?

              1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
                Headmaster

                Re: Amazon affiliate links

                Really?! Gimbal, gimlet, gibbon, give, gild, gift (one letter more than gif) and of course git. It doesn't seem like there is much of a general rule there.

                As I said, there are exceptions.

                When I wrote "the general rule" I didn't mean "my general rule" or "what bob down the pub says." - I even linked to an article by an expert who mentioned it.

                Look it up in any English book, it is the defined general rule for words beginning "gi" . I suggest doing research before posting - it would save you from looking silly!

                https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=soft+or+hard+g+general+rule

                If gif is "jif" then what am I supposed to put on my pancakes,Gamie Gones?

                The rule is abour an 'i' following a 'g' is generally soft. It has nothing to do with how a 'j' is pronounced.

                1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

                  Re: Amazon affiliate links

                  @Jamie ,

                  Let me try a few . girlfriend . give . gift . gingerbread (ooh theres one!) . gist . gibbon. gibson . giddy gideon . giggle . gilt . I'm up to gi"L" and we found 2.

                  That general rule you quoted applies to a G anywhere in the word . I suspect in general its different when its the first letter

                2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

                  Re Tom scott

                  Having heard the wild stories about Tom abusing and torturing the word gif I went to the utube to hear it for myself .

                  He's doing it exactly right! gif not jif " he asserts jif is technically correct , yet plainly weird and wrong and conitues to say gif like a normal person)

            2. JohnFen Silver badge

              Re: Amazon affiliate links

              " so what's your beef with Tom again?"

              My beef has nothing to do with a soft or hard 'g' -- I'm equally good with either. My problem is that he pronounces it with a long 'i'. He's the only one I've ever heard do that, and it's like nails on a chalkboard to me. Petty, I know, particularly considering that his actual content tends to be great, but it's so hard for me to listen to.

              1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
                Happy

                Re: Amazon affiliate links

                My beef has nothing to do with a soft or hard 'g' -- I'm equally good with either. My problem is that he pronounces it with a long 'i'. He's the only one I've ever heard do that, and it's like nails on a chalkboard to me.

                Oh.. .I see.. .Really? I haven't heard that, but in that case, I'm in full agreement with you! *shudder*

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Amazon affiliate links

      My children's school PTA has an affiliate link to help raise funds for the school. I don't use it *because* I don't see any reason they need a list of the random selection of music and books I buy from Amazon.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Amazon affiliate links

        "I don't see any reason they need a list of the random selection of music and books I buy from Amazon."

        No but they do need funds - if unfortunately the funds come along with a fun list of how they were raised , thats just a cross theyll have to bear . They could always "not read it" and / or promise the public not to read it.

        Let me rephrase: "You are deliberately denying your own child's school funding because you don't want them to get an anonymised list of what a random cross section people bought?"

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Amazon affiliate links

          "You are deliberately denying your own child's school funding because you don't want them to get an anonymised list of what a random cross section people bought?"

          Nothing prevents you from just donating money straight to the school. That's what I always did -- I never bought any of the fundraising products because I didn't feel the need to subsidize both the school and whatever business the products are connected with. I'd rather have all the money go to the school.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Better Netfllix than purveyors of pr0n

    The peak-to-peak amplitude to be found on Netflix is pretty tame. Not really a lot there.

    Now excuse me, I've got to get back to NakedGoats.com. LOL

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: Better Netfllix than purveyors of pr0n

      youve given your CC and personal data to a pr0n site? oh my.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Better Netfllix than purveyors of pr0n

        Coming soon (pun intended) to consumers of such material in the UK* soon.

        As govt want their mandatory age check on such sites accessed from UK, and you can bet it will require huge amounts of personal data

        * I assume it will be geofenced, so just means a surge in VPN** use by those who want to avoid it

        ** Where VPN gives IP address not associated with UK IP bands

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Better Netfllix than purveyors of pr0n

      You're fine, you posted AC so there's no trail!

      (ignores list of anonymous comments in posting history...)

  4. eldakka Silver badge

    7th paragraph, I think yo got your 'f' s mixed up:

    This may seem like a quaint concern in an era when elected officials shrug of charges off pedophilia, sexual assault, and treason, but there was a time when public image mattered.

    The tips and corrections link doesn't work for me at work.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
      Go

      The tips and corrections link doesn't work for me at work.

      No one uses that, its more fun alert the author via the comments section - keeps 'em on their toes.

      Its not like discovering a zero day security bug and responsibly giving the owners a reasonable time to fix it before going public.

  5. Field Commander A9

    Maybe just pure statics on the clips themselves.

    Deduced from unique cookies / AD-IDs.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ha Ha, jokes on them!

    We don't have sufficient bandwidth to stream Netflix !!!!!

  7. TRT Silver badge

    Isn't this...

    Just the same as Spotify's recent campaign? I think one went along the lines of "To the person with the playlist 'So lonely in London', Are you alright?"

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "If you give me six films watched by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him."

    Any of the twilight trilogy, most Adam Sandler films and not forgetting Battlefield Earth. There are probably worse.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      adam sandler films are fantastic. if you need to get rid of guests just queue a few of those up for entertainment, they soon make excuses to leave.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >adam sandler films.......

        I work for CID and we find them very useful for extracting confessions, a much better success rate than pliers or electricity.

      2. wolfetone Silver badge

        "adam sandler films are fantastic."

        I didn't know Adam Sandler read The Register.

        1. wayne 8

          Continue on and read the second sentence.

    2. cambsukguy

      According to a film I just saw, The Room is the one to (not) watch.

      And I was thinking Plan 9 from outer space was easily the worst.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I enjoyed plan 9. The worst film I've seen was battleground los angeles - so bad the top billing went to a relative of someone who normally only shows up in z-list films!

  9. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Twitter

    It's all innocent fun until lack of data oversight becomes an issue, as it did when a Twitter contractor shut down President Trump's Twitter account for 11 minutes last month.

    It turned out the contractor in question received a complaint about one of El Presidente's tweets and acted upon it following Twitter's own T&Cs, which is arguably more fair than the lack of data oversight which is keeping the account open despite whatever is posted so Twiter gets more hits.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Huuuuuuuuuuuge assumption being made here that the numbers are anything other than a social media manager's invention. And we know what Netflix viewer behaviour is already - we chill :D

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm not seeing it as alarming or creepy, it's an attempt at humour, nothing more.

      Are we really surprised that a company based on providing targeting programming is gathering and using data like this?

      Tesco do far more with it.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow on a tech site people seem surprised.

    Can I recommend some of you set up a Facebook page (not account).

    Get a few friends to like it.

    Then see what a treasure trove you are offered. Even a basic account gets you a whole range of targeting profiles. Age demographics, area demographics, target people with similar interests to your friends.

    With more money, the tools open up. Target young males that like call of duty...no problem.

    The same goes for Google+ and to a lesser extent, MS.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Wow on a tech site people seem surprised.

      You can even target a specific Facebook advert at a person whose email address you know. Dave Gorman used it for a prank on his wife in one of his recent shows - but we were discussing it a few years ago when we briefly had a company social media experiment. Decided it wasn't for us, but you can do some pretty creepy stuff.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    To the conspiracy theorists who read this article 53 times today then searched for butt plugs and blow up dolls, don't be so paranoid as we are not watching you (honestly).

    The Reg Ed.

    1. 's water music Silver badge
      Pint

      To the conspiracy theorists who read this article 53 times today then searched for butt plugs and blow up dolls...

      ...Party round mine!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Answer me this...

    Who really cares? I find that fact released by Netflix both interesting and amusing, at the hurt to who? None.

    As for all these people who go on about online privacy and security, what about all the times you've given your delivery address to an 'offline' (so to speak) company? All the times you've had a tracked parcel sent to you? All the times you've bought from any form of online store (which apart from a small handful of people between the ages of 13 and 70 in 2017 in the western world, you're a liar if you say you've never bought online - it doesn't need to be a physical product you buy)? All the times you've signed up for an online account, even using fake details but doing it from your home router? All the times you've taken out a telephone contract / tv license / utility service such as gas or leccy?

    All these companies hold your details in one way or another. Some, forever, totally ignoring data retention rules. Some are more susceptible than others at being targeted but they're all still holding and in their own little way, tracking a little bit of info about you.

    The sooner we accept that our data will be mined through any medium imaginable, the sooner we can be at peace with it and enjoy life.

    Anyway, got to go, time for Christmas Prince.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Answer me this...

      "Who really cares?"

      I do.

      "All these companies hold your details in one way or another."

      Absolutely correct. It's obviously impossible to engage in any business other than cash-only, in-person purchases without giving information about yourself. All that means, though, is that I'm very cautious about purchases that aren't cash-only and in-person. Netflix doesn't provide anything I can't get in more secure ways, so I'm not going to do business with them.

      "The sooner we accept that our data will be mined through any medium imaginable, the sooner we can be at peace with it and enjoy life."

      I disagree. Accepting that as my inevitable lot in life means that I can never really be at peace.

  14. 0laf Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Well duh

    Of course you're being profiled.

    You can see it clearly when it makes suggestion to you. And the company will analyise this for a few purposes. The one we'd all be ok with would be to help with the selection of new shows and films.

    But then we'll also be analysed for other monitising opportunities.

    I'm sure it's only a matter of time before we have to pay extra to avoid adverts on Amazon or Netflix.

    Automatic profiling has a specific mention within the GDPR. I wonder how Netflix etc intend to stay in compliance with that. Or if they intent to try to trade in defiance of it.

  15. Alan J. Wylie Silver badge

    Doctor Fun, almost 22 years ago

    In an adversarial situation – a court hearing, a job interview ...

    In the quiet of the late shift last night, having a long chat with one of the apprentices, starting with the difference between section 1, 2 and 3 man pages, we eventually wandered on to to exactly this, and I showed him Doctor Fun's still relevant cartoon from all those years ago.

    The Ghost of Usenet Postings Past

    Mind you, I had to explain what Usenet is too, also the history of the ARM processor (Tim and I were porting GST's 1st Word+ onto Arthur for the launch of the Archimedes exactly 30 years ago).

  16. VinceH Silver badge

    'At the same time, Netflix says it cannot guarantee the security of the data it collects: "We use reasonable administrative, logical, physical and managerial measures to safeguard your personal information against loss, theft and unauthorized access, use and modification. Unfortunately, no measures can be guaranteed to provide 100% security. Accordingly, we cannot guarantee the security of your information."'

    I think they're being honest there - any website or company that says otherwise and claims they can guarantee that security is lying; they don't know what flaws will be discovered in future, nor whether that flaw will be exploited before they can do anything about it.

  17. Bill Fresher

    Has anyone tried to make a Data Protection Request with Netflix? Might be interesting to see how they respond.

  18. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    I'm just about to subscribe to Netflix , because I've finished watching all the good stuff on Amazon . (Didnt take long) . This article has not put me off.

    1. cambsukguy

      You're in for a treat, the two are not remotely comparable.

    2. Red Bren
      Pirate

      I've just completed a free trial with netflix. I would have signed up for a subscription, were it not for their refusal to take my money by direct debit. Instead, they insist on a continuous payment authority (CPA) against a credit or debit card. These arrangements offer less consumer protection than DDs as the business can vary the amount or timing of the payment without prior notice.

      When I phoned their helpline to ask if there was a way to set up a direct debit, as their website didn't appear to support it, I was assured that yes they did, I just needed to give them the debit card number. After a few minutes of insisting that I would only supply a sort code and account number, and only after he read me the direct debit guarantee script, he finally admitted that he couldn't set up a DD and was trying to set up a CPA. I thanked him for his time and informed him I would not be subscribing until they accepted a payment method with better consumer protection.

  19. Dave 126 Silver badge

    I'm confused

    I'd assumed that Netflix already keeps user viewing data (in order to recommend new shows to viewers based on their viewing history) and that viewers know this. So I'm confused as to what it is that we've newly learnt from Netflix's tweets.

    Still, I've only drunk 3/4 of a coffee so far, so maybe the issue is mine.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: I'm confused

      Well it highlights questions of exactly what data they keep on individuals - which were already obvious. But most ordinary people don't think about it, or even realise just how much data they give to companies like Facebook and Google all the time.

      But also it raises the question of how much access ordinary Netflix employees have to that data. Google always like to talk about the algorithms, as if these are neutral, computer-generated processes that have no interaction with humans. And of course these companies' datasets are so vast, that no human can read individual info from them. But what if Netflix employees can just casually dial up a username/email and ogle their personal video history? What controls do they have in place.

      I think the PR own-goal is more about the mean-spiritied nature of the post. Make the joke about Netflix themselves, or if about the users, make it general and non-specific. This crossed a line in taste - but possibly more importantly highlighted the dangerous power that many of these tech companies have to ordinary users,who don't normally think about it.

    2. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: I'm confused

      "I'd assumed that Netflix already keeps user viewing data (in order to recommend new shows to viewers based on their viewing history)"

      I wish it would also keep the data that I'd only watched the first five minutes of something before deciding it was pants, so it wouldn't include similarly crap things in the 'because you watched....' recommendations.

      1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

        Re: I'm confused

        "I wish it would also keep the data" - if I remember right, you can give "thumbs down" in Netflix to anything you watched.

        1. Simon Harris Silver badge

          Re: I'm confused

          "Thumbs down"

          Don't know quite what effect that has on things I've seen, but it doesn't take stuff out of my 'Watch it again' list - it was crap the first time - it's not going to be less crap if I watch it again!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I'm confused

            You can also remove it from your viewing history, in which case it won't show up in that list, and it'll be less likely to show as a suggestion elsewhere if you've given it the thumbs down. I'd also suggest using one of the many 3rd party sites and apps available to search for something to watch rather than depending on Netflix's own UI, as it can leave something to be desired if you're not just going to blindly follow the herd or watch whatever Netflix Original has just appeared.

            As with most of these things, there's always a workaround if you spend less time moaning and more time trying out the options available to you.

            1. Simon Harris Silver badge

              Re: I'm confused @AC

              Thanks for the history tip.

              It would be better though if it was integrated into the app (I tend to watch either on an iPad for bedtime/bathtime viewing or via the TiVo on the proper TV) and didn't make you go to the Netflix website to do it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm confused

        An easy way to mark something I've stopped watching as "don't want to watch!" would be great, going to the history and removing it to stop it appearing in your continue watching is annoying

      3. IsJustabloke Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: I'm confused

        "I wish it would also keep the data that I'd only watched the first five minutes of something before deciding it was pants,"

        I don't generally use the Netflix website but if you visit "your account" on the website you can remove stuff like that from your history and that solves the problem.

        It would be nice if they were clever enough to recognise that you "only watched 5 minutes of something and have never gone back to it so must think it shite" but at least you can have a tidy up.

        ETA I see others have already pointed this out!

    3. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: I'm confused

      "I'm confused as to what it is that we've newly learnt from Netflix's tweets."

      We've learned that Netflix has an extraordinarily high level of disregard about that data and how it should be used.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We have learned...

      That it might be really helpful to those who post "who cares" to get Netflix to Twitter some anonymous data of theirs!

      I'm thinking along the lines of "To the person just getting home from work, your partner may want to know that frame you paused on. For 2 hours every Friday, what were you doing?"

      Ok even that is not too specific. However the data and twitter post could be both randomised for the total data set, but very specific for an individual.

  20. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Former Facebook VP: Mea culpa!

    Former Facebook executive: social media is ripping society apart

    Chamath Palihapitiya, former vice-president of user growth, expressed regret for his part in building tools that destroy ‘the social fabric of how society works’

    Unfortunately a) it's pretty fucking late now to realise all the bad things you've done once you've slurped everyone's data and b) Facebook is not going to shut up shop.

  21. thomas k

    Umm ... guilty?

    I watched Maleficent three times.

  22. JohnFen Silver badge

    Indeed

    That sort of thing is one of the reasons I'm glad that I stopped using Netflix (the main reason I stopped was their energetic pushing. along with Google and Microsoft, of the EME into HTML5.)

    In general, I've stopped using cloud services, or any software that phones home, to the greatest degree possible. The data collection is completely out of hand, "anonymized data" is simply a lie, and no company can be trusted to avoid selling or giving data about me to other companies (or governments) that I might trust even less.

  23. Blackheart

    Uhh...

    You mean you guys don't track which IPs read what articles on The Register?

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