NAUGHTY NETFLIX did a funny on Twitter and now some humourless folks have got a bee in their bonnets, forcing the streaming giant to explain itself.
Like every good tale of controversy, we need to go back in time to November when the panned film A Christmas Prince landed on Netflix.
Riffing off the social media infamy and celebration the film had collected for being unintentionally dire, Netflix's US Twitter account tweeted: "To the 53 people who've watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days: Who hurt you?"
To the 53 people who've watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days: Who hurt you?— Netflix US (@netflix) December 11, 2017
Yeah, we laughed as well. But while we weren't alone in cracking a cheesy grin, there waa a handful of sourpusses that seemed lacking in all Xmas cheer that failed to see the funny side.
Angel.K on Twitter was unimpressed declaring: "Very creepy, Netflix. Not cool spying on your PAYING customers and then judging them in public."
Very creepy, Netflix. Not cool spying on your PAYING customers and then judging them in public. 😒— Angela.Kay (@DeepSouthProud) December 11, 2017
For context, Ms .Kay's Twitter handle is @DeepSouthProud and her bio reads: "Conservative. Married. III%. #ProLife #2A" - we'll let you draw your own judgements from that.
New York Times columnist Kevin Roose took that slightly smug approach we all have when tweeting into an echo chamber of followers who roughly share our views: "I liked this tweet because it's good to be reminded that huge unaccountable companies use our personal data to dunk on us both literally and figuratively."
I liked this tweet because it's good to be reminded that huge unaccountable companies use our personal data to dunk on us both literally and figuratively. https://t.co/4IXFUuEHsT— Kevin Roose (@kevinroose) December 11, 2017
And a handful of other US tech reporters also tweeted semi-wry comments about how Netflix is using our personal data or creating a Big Brother-like cult of surveillance.
What these people seemed to have missed is Netflix was simply referencing viewing figures, not its users personal and identifying information..... much in the same way their sites collect visitor data.
Let's use this example: if we were to stand by our window and count how many people walked passed wearing scarves we'd be able to tweet something along the lines of: "To the six people wearing neon green and red scarves, who hurt your dress sense?"
That doesn't mean we'd know any of their private information or who the hell they were. That's basically what Netflix was forced to explain.
"This information represents overall viewing trends, not the personal viewing information of specific, identified individuals," said a Netflix representative, reported the BBC.
Despite a humourous name, Dr Bernie Hogan, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, also appeared to have a sense of humour failure for a different reason.
"It is in poor taste," he said, according to the BBC. "It sounds like a cheeky social media account operator who was too clever for their own good."
The academic anti-lol noted that people may have children who take comfort in repeatedly watching the same thing and that Netflix is making a sweeping moral judgement on its figures for the sake of a laugh.
Two things here. One: If you're a parent and your young child is getting offended by wry social media posts then well done on raising such a tech-savvy and context-aware kid.
Two: Does Hogan understand that vast amounts of comedy draw from moral judgements? We think not.
We like to think he takes joy from an immaculately arranged sock drawer and finds chicken kormas a little too spicy.
Hey look, we understand that humour is not as universal as we'd like and that questions do need to be asked about corporate data collection.
But at the same time, you can read the small print, not jump to conspiracy conclusions, and also, you know just not take everything too seriously: we don't and that's why we have a tame Chris Merriman (pardon? - CM).
If you have been offended by this article, please send all complaints to One Humourless House, Borington Crescent, Dullwich, A Grey Day In London GT70 L01. µ
And a cat with eight legs
Accessing online grot will require stating your age before the fun starts
Comes after report names and shames apps using 'dark patterns' to trick users
Brit chip designer wants its chips in data centres and beyond