Netflix and Spotify experiment with ads based on data mining of our activities


"To the 53 people who’ve watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days: Who hurt you?" Netflix tweeted in December 2017. While the tweet did not contain any information that could have identified any of the 53 people, it still made many of those who saw it uncomfortable. A Christmas Prince was a new movie released by Netflix, and the statistic is apparently derived from the service's detailed collection of data on what its subscribers watch.

Subscribers are generally aware that the service amasses data on what they watch, in part to recommend other shows and movies they might like and to decide what to commission, and this use of big data mining did not violate the company's stated privacy policy. Nonetheless, the tweet struck many as offensive rather than amusing. Other companies - notably, Spotify - have also run marketing campaigns based on mining data gathered by the system.

Writer: Sapna Maheshwari
Publication: New York Times

Related learning resources