The Dark Side of Netflix

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Netflix Is Outing You, Gay Communist Serial Killer

Wired is running an article by Ryan Singel about a privacy breech at Netflix and the resulting lawsuit: Doe v. Netflix. At issue is Netflix's intentional release of supposedly anonymous subscriber data to the public for a movie recommendations improvement contest. Concerned parties, however, are worried the data could be easily used to identify specific people by cross-referencing the data with other sources.

The primary concern is one's movie-watching habits and preferences could provide tremendously strong hints about one's sexual interests, religious beliefs, political affiliations, etc. For example, if you have rented Brokeback Mountain, Milk, and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert from Netflix, this data could potentially be used to indicate you have homosexual interests (whether you do or not). Perhaps you rented Lolita, The Lover, and Pretty Baby from Netflix. A nosey person might conclude you have an interest in underage girls. Maybe you rented movies about Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, David Berkowitz, etc. from Netflix. You might be identified as a person obsessed with serial killers. Perhaps you rented movies about Che Guevara, Chairman Mao, and Joseph Stalin from Netflix. You could be viewed as a person with Communist sympathies. The examples could go on and on.

Your movie-watching habits and preferences say a lot about you. What they say could be inaccurate, but they do say things. In the hands of a malicious person, your viewing data can be used to reveal all sorts of information about you. Whether these revelations are true or not, the information could be used to embarrass, harass, persecute, or investigate you.

If you are concerned that Netflix has compromised your privacy by releasing your personal movie-watching habits and preferences, consider contacting an attorney. At the very least, contact Netflix to find out what they are doing with your personal information. Make sure Netflix responds to you in writing. It is your information. You have a right to know. You have a right to hold Netflix accountable for this careless behavior.


Netflix Pop-Under Ads Cause Frustration

Netflix ads are all over television. They are on radio. Banner ads appear all over Web sites. Bizarrely, Netflix ads have even appeared on this Web site through open, automated ad rotations. All of these ads are annoying, but their annoyance pales in comparison to the annoyance of Netflix's pop-under ads. If you spend much time on the Internet, you have--no doubt--seen these offending ads.

Here's how it works. You visit a Web site, complete your business, and close the browser window. That should be the end of your experience, but do not be surprised to find another small window remaining on your desktop after you are finished. In bold and bright letters, Netflix beckons you with tantalizing offers of free trials and low introductory pricing. Even though you did not intentionally open the advertisement page, it is there whether you care to see it or not. If you want the obnoxious ad to go away, you must manually close the window. That is when you start to wonder what sort of cookie data is now on your computer and how much extra bandwidth the ad page consumed while loading.

If you did not want to see this sneaky Netflix pop-under ad, why were you inconvenienced by it? Sure, you can install software to fight these ads, but the software is not 100% effective. Besides, why should you have to install software on your computer to battle Netflix's marketing efforts? Why should you have to take any steps to close or impede a window you did not want to open in the first place?

Netflix is playing innocent and denying fault for these ads. The truth is that Netflix has chosen to hire advertising companies who deal in this sleazy and forced type of pop-under advertising. Do these pop-under ads annoy you? They certainly annoy NETFLIXSUX. NETFLIXSUX is expressing outrage over these ads in an online protest of sorts. You can visit the site at


Just Say No to Netflix’s Blu-Ray Fee Increase

On April 27, 2009, those of you who have Blu-ray rental privileges enabled on your Netflix account will be treated to a subscription fee increase. You must remove the Blu-ray rental option from your account before that day to avoid the fee hike. The fee hikes vary from plan to plan. The more you pay per month, the greater your fee increase will be. Now would be a good time to swear off Blu-ray forever.

Blu-ray is a ridiculous format anyway, and you should not be wasting your money on it. When viewed on an excellent HD entertainment system, Blu-rays do offer better quality than DVDs, but the difference is just not enough to justify all of the expenses and costs associated with Blu-ray technology. Besides, the world is moving to fully digital downloadable content. Blu-ray and all other video discs will be nearly obsolete in the not-so-distant future. You can read more about why Blu-ray is a doomed format on Video Underground, an Underground Syndicate site, in “Just Say No to Blu-Ray.”

Once you realize the future of Blu-ray is bleak, make sure to cancel the Blu-ray access on your Netflix account. The Netflix Blu-ray fee increase is only weeks away. There is no reason to be wasting money on a format that has so little going for it. Save your money. Enjoy your DVDs, and wait for the era of digital downloads to come of age. It will be here before you know it.


Netflix Once Blamed USPS, Now They Blame ISPs

Netflix’s Chief Product Officer, Neil Hunt, has addressed Netflix streaming content problems on The Netflix Blog.

Many subscribers are suspicious that Netflix is throttling streaming content for heavy users. Netflix is flatly denying this practice, but the company has no credibility, because they have abused subscribers through throttling before and denied it.

Netflix’s denials of throttling streaming content are somewhat like the denials they used when they lied about their practice of throttling through the mail. Netflix used to blame USPS for the check-in and shipping delays for DVDs. We later discovered the fault largely did not rest with USPS, and the delays were mostly due to Netflix. Now that Netflix is being accused of throttling streaming content, Netflix is blaming the ISPs for the delays. First they blamed USPS, now they are blaming ISPs. We found out USPS was mostly innocent. What we will find out about the ISPs?

As of now, Netflix is on record as officially denying the practice of throttling streaming content for some users. If someone later finds Netflix is lying, there will probably be more lawsuits and ill will toward Netflix.

By the way, Neil Hunt’s most infuriating point in Netflix’s denial is that Netflix “hopes” to solve the streaming content problem by the end of the year. Why is this not a higher priority for Netflix? Netflix should be talking about having this resolved by the end of April.


Throttling Suspicions for Netflix Streaming Content

The latest controversy surrounding Netflix is about the throttling of streaming content over the Internet. Some Netflix subscribers have strong suspicions that Netflix is limiting their ability to view streaming content by forcing unusually long data buffer times that can force a viewer to wait for many minutes or hours before viewing a movie or show. Netflix and their defenders say some Internet service providers must be limiting their users’ data downloads through these buffer delays.

Regardless of who is causing these buffer delays, they are a problem, because they can greatly limit a Netflix subscriber’s ability to view streaming content. The real problem here is we do not know the true cause or culprit. We cannot trust the ISPs, because they are sometimes unscrupulous companies who hide behind technology and defend themselves with nonsensical industry lingo. We absolutely cannot trust Netflix, because, a few years ago, they were caught throttling subscribers through the mail and would not admit it until lawyers got involved.

Both the ISPs and Netflix have the ability to throttle customers and both could benefit by throttling. Since neither side can be trusted, throttled Netflix subscribers are in the dark. As of now, it appears that some Netflix subscribers who access streaming content might be getting throttled over the Internet. The question is: If this throttling is intentional, who is doing the throttling?

Click below to read Riyad Kalla’s article on The "Break It Down" Blog about streaming content throttling at Netflix.
"Netflix Throttling Instant Video Streaming Performance for Viewers"


Silverlight Instant Viewer Angers Some Netflix Subscribers

Slashdot is reporting an uproar among Netflix subscribers over Netflix’s instant viewer application, which is powered by powered by Microsoft's Silverlight.

Some subscribers are complaining the new player makes permanent changes to their media viewing options. Many are complaining the new player’s quality is poor and unacceptable. Some subscribers feel Netflix misled them into installing the player. What is your opinion of the Silverlight player employed by Netflix?