Netflix denies changing series’ episodes for gay users

Samira wiley in netflix series love death and robots
Photo: Netflix

Netflix has denied a claim that its algorithms have tailored the episode order of a new series to users based on their perceived sexual orientation.

Love, Death & Robots is a new anthology series recently released on the platform, which tells a variety of non-linear science fiction stories.

Lukas Thomas from tech not-for-profit Out in Tech tweeted that while he was watching the new Netflix series he noticed the show’s episodes were ordered differently for him than some of his friends – with the queer-themed episode listed first on his account, but his friends seeing an episode with heterosexual sex scenes first.

“Just discovered the most INSANE thing,” he tweeted.

“The ORDER OF THE EPISODES for Netflix’s new series Love Death & Robots changes based on whether Netflix thinks you’re gay or straight.”

Sharing two side-by-side screen-grabs, Thomas noted, “On the left is my account, starting with the one with a lesbian storyline, and the right is my straight friend Andrew’s account, starting with the one that has the most realistic and explicit hetero sex.”

Netflix soon clarified the situation, explaining in a tweet that the company was experimenting with randomised episode ordering for the non-linear series.

“We’ve never had a show like Love, Death & Robots before so we’re trying something completely new: presenting four different episode orders,” Netflix’s US account tweeted in response to Thomas.

“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.”

In a later tweet, Thomas said he had independently verified the differing episode orders had been delivered to users at random, but said the topic was an important one.

“I hear Netflix thinks and cares a lot about ethical algorithms, but every company needs to be more transparent here,” he wrote.


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