By this point in the online and social media space time continuum, everybody with a frontal lobe is aware that digital service providers are collecting and sharing and selling user usage data. The unspoken rule is that Facebook, Google, Comcast and the rest of them are supposed to pretend they’re only collecting aggregate user data of their customers. Nothing personal.
Customers are supposed to pretend to believe this ruse, despite the fact that pictures of their deceased friends keep popping up in their feeds with reminders to purchase life insurance. This joint delusion allows everybody to sleep easy at night while the details of their personal lives are picked over by artificially intelligent bots.
Netflix decided to go a different way and brag openly about how that “only aggregate data” notice in their terms of service is an obvious joke. Netflix mocked users who have repeatedly watched its original crappy holiday film, A Christmas Prince:
Netflix fancies itself a cheeky renegade voice among the digital content streaming services. They’re going for the self-satirical bit. They recently allowed a cannabis company to open a pop up shop in L.A. recently using their show names as weed strains to promote their new weed show, Disjointed. Pretty edgy for a multibillion dollar corporation. And the joke about “Who hurt you?” to the likely mentally disturbed people who watched their Christmas movie eighteen days in a row is in the realm of being funny. But the subtext is less amusing: we track what you watch, as individuals.
If you visit your Netflix account settings you can see the list of your own viewing log and any sub-profiles under your account. Presumably more for parental control, but it’s all there. Every show or movie every streamed, when, and for how long. Hardly a surprise that Netflix has this info since you can see it for yourself.
As of yet, there’s no indication Netflix is using your viewing data for more than statistical analysis and obviously internal marketing for other content back at you. Though they can switch on the sinister switch any time they choose. See Facebook as an example. Don’t be fooled by Zuckerberg’s smile. He’s profiting from your personal information to the maximum extent allowed by law. And since these guys donate in big chunks to elected officials and lobbying organizations, that extent continues to grown.
The digital media world presents a choice much like visiting Harvey Weinstein up in his hotel room. You have to pay to play. It’s best not to think about what your binge watching is truly costing you. Obviously in addition to heart disease and listless ambition.