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Netflix Saved and Collected Every Choice Viewers Made in ‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’

Lots of people made jokes on social media about Netflix collecting viewers' "Black Mirror" choices. Turns out, it was really happening.

"Black Mirror: Bandersnatch"

“Black Mirror: Bandersnatch”


Netflix’s interactive choose-your-own-adventure offering “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” presented viewers with nearly one trillion different storytelling combinations, and it turns out Netflix saved every single choice a viewer made and collected it as data to use in the future. Michael Veale, a technology policy researcher at University College London, told VICE’s Motherboard he reached out to Netflix for answers after wisecracks about the streaming giant saving “Black Mirror” data became a running joke on social media.

“People had been speculating a lot on Twitter about Netflix’s motivations,” Veale told Motherboard in an email. “I thought it would be a fun test to show people how you can use data protection law to ask real questions you have.”

Veale reached out to Netflix and cited Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which allows anyone to “request a wealth of information from a company collecting data.” Using the GDPR, Veale requested from Netflix information about “the reason its collecting data, the categories they’re sorting data into, third parties it’s sharing the data with, and other information.”

Netflix told Veale in an email it was collecting viewers’ “Black Mirror” choices as data to “inform the personalized recommendations you see in future visits.” Like nearly all data Netflix collects, the choices apparently will be used to help the algorithm better recommend tailored content to individual viewers. The streaming giant also said it was storing aggregated forms of the users’ choice to “determine how to improve [the show’s] model of storytelling.” Netflix did not disclose how long it plans to store the data.

“Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” is now streaming on Netflix.

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