In the quest for social media relevance companies chase those ever elusive viral memes and trending Tweets. More brands are turning over their accounts to woke and cloyingly jovial millennial operators who interact with users, snark at news stories, and troll the competition by pouncing on miscues and malaprops.
Occasionally these corporate accounts land a decent interaction, but that is in a swamp of desperate tweets, failed viral videos, and just plain impotent attempts at synergistic relevance. NetFlix has started to distinguish itself in this fashion by making some slightly amusing observations about arcane user preferences. This has set off a number of media “experts” about the dark ramifications of it all.
The media snit was created when the NetFlix twitter account posted this curio about the viewing habits of a small clutch of its expansive user database.
Slightly wry, or dad-joke lame — depending on your perspective. However if you looked at the reactions of members of our journalist class you would think the company just doxxed dozens of members in the Witness Protection Program. The reactions were — as they say in the better dramatic acting classes — “over”.
Just how naive are these “journalists” to be surprised in any fashion that NetFlix tracks your viewing habits? It is a mostly digital platform and using internal data to mold their ability to compel further viewing is a given. Log in and you are given a list of recommended titles. Scroll through your main page and you see groupings predicated on particular content you previously liked. Finish up a binge session and it is given a coda of other programming similar to what you finished.
For these media experts to be outraged and feign dismay over this practice is pure farce. What company these days does not compile consumer data?! Possibly an Amish candle company. These are reporters peacocking and nothing more.
The best example that typifies the press knee-jerking to the point of toppling the serving tray holding their juice boxes was from Trevor Timm, of The Guardian.
The supposition of wrongdoing and the mock-shock is not only on display, but so is the lack of common sense. To address the echo that NetFlix is “publicly shaming” customers, just stop. Nobody here is named, or even indirectly alluded to. The company culled an arcane statistic from its internal metrics, and used it for a punchline, nothing more.
And the call for punishment? Please. Maybe you don’t like the idea, but NetFlix is a platform where it offers you content, and they are free to monitor, compile, and implement tactics based on the data. The hand-wringing over privacy is absurdist, at best.
One other story nearly identical in nature, but generating none of the same outrage, comes out of Great Britain. The Business Insider reported that somebody there watched “The Bee Movie” every single day this past year. That is one individual “being called out”, by these standards. Why no similar calls for propriety?
Just a word of caution to our cautionary media players; just understand when you are watching NetFlix, THEY are watching you!