Netflix has been accused of targeting black users with posters that replace white leads with secondary black cast members.
Writer Stacia L Brown pointed out the discrepancy between the posters for her suggested films and the actual stars. For Like Father, which is centered around Kelsey Grammer and Kristen Bell, Brown was shown an image of minor characters played by Blaire Brooks and Leonard Ouzts.
For Love Actually, the poster on Brown’s Netflix includes Chiwetel Ejiofor and seems to suggest the film is a romance between him and Keira Knightley. Additionally, posters for Set it Up, Sierra Burgess is a Loser, and The Good Cop all featured black actors who were missing in the artwork served to some white users. See the examples below.
Netflix began personalizing artwork based on viewing habits last year, but many users took issue with the idea of targeting subscribers by race.
“It’s intrusive. It’s the dark side of marketing. I noticed it a while ago with a Zac Efron film that I’d already seen, but Netflix kept showing me it as a Michael B Jordan movie,” podcast host Tolani Shoneye said to The Guardian.
“There was 30 minutes of a romcom I ended up watching last week because I thought it was about the black couple I was shown on the poster. I want to see those stories. They know I want to see those stories. Why don’t they just make more of them?”
In a statement to The Guardian, Netflix denied the claims.
“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,” it said.
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