Netflix has denied observations by users that they’re changing the episode orders of a new series basued on viewers’ sexual orientation.
The streaming giant recommends things for their users to watch based on their viewing history. This is the first time, however, they’re randomizing the episode order of an original series.
Love, Death & Robots is a new animated anthology series on the platform. Created by Tim Miller, the series tells a variety of sci-fi stories based on Miller and David Fincher’s reboot of the Candian sci-fi fantasy flick Heavy metal.
Lukas Thoms of Out in Tech noticed the episode order change and tweeted about it.
‘Just discovered the most INSANE thing,’ he wrote. ‘The ORDER OF THE EPISODES for Netflix’s new series Love Death & Robots changes based on whether Netflix thinks you’re gay or straight.’
He then posted side-by-side photos of his account’s episode order for Love, Death & Robots and a straight friend’s account.
Thoms explained the series started with a lesbian episode for him, and an episode with heterosexual sex for his friend. He also noted two of his other gay friends had the same order as himself.
In the thread, Thoms further explained his reasoning that he didn’t think sexual orientation was the only variable and also that he presumed it was an algorithm.
What’s really going on
In a reply to Thoms, Netflix clairifed and said the changing episode order has nothing to do with sexual orientation.
‘We’ve never had a show like Love, Death & Robots before so we’re trying something completely new: presenting four different episode orders,’ the company said.
We've never had a show like Love, Death & Robots before so we're trying something completely new: presenting four different episode orders. The version you're shown has nothing to do with gender, ethnicity, or sexual identity — info we don't even have in the first place.
— Netflix US (@netflix) March 19, 2019
They also stated they don’t have information on their users’ ‘gender, ethnicity, or sexual identity’.
In Thoms’ continued thread, he independently verified this as well. He asked a friend who works at the company to look into the matter.
Thoms’ friend reportedly told him the episode order was a ‘100% random A/B test’.
Concluding this thread, Thoms, however, also acknowledged the information could be used in the future.
‘I hear Netflix thinks and cares a lot about ethical algorithms, but every company needs to be more transparent here,’ he wrote.
Love, Death & Robots is currently streaming and stars Samira Wiley, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Topher Grace, and more.