Netflix accused of changing movie posters to match your ethnicity

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“Clumsy at best and offensive at worst.”

It’s no secret Netflix picks and chooses which film artwork it shows in your menu. In fact the streaming giant even shared a blog post last year about the way it tries to get its titles to appeal to you.

But now, some Twitter users have called out the service for selecting artwork based on their ethnicity, presenting films with predominately white leads to look like they centre around black characters.

Case in point: a poster for Love Actually, which to some viewers is presented to look like a love story between Chiwetel Ejiofor and Kira Knightly (who both have relatively minor roles).

Users also reported seeing altered posters for films like Sierra Burgess is a Loser and Like Father, the second of which has incredibly minor roles for its black characters.

“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,” founder and editor of MelanMag.com (a publication for women of colour), Joy Joses, told Sky News. “It’s beyond deceptive to think that I am being manipulated based on my so-called algorithm choices. It really is an own goal though, as audiences have caught on.”

In response to the claims, a Netflix spokesperson said:

“Reports that we look at demographics when personalizing artwork are untrue. 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. 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.
We are always trying to learn from our members and looking for ways to improve how we personalize the service over time.”

You can check out some of the comparisons below.


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