Bandersnatch-Ing Data from Interactive Netflix Show

Bandersnatch, the interactive Black Mirror movie on Netflix, was something of a hit. Viewers could pick the narrative path they went down. However, the Register reported on research that showed the data about choices could be snooped on using network packet analysis. Indeed, the scientists behind the research claims that they successfully determined what choice users made 96% of the time.

When viewers watching the video choose one of the two narrative paths at various branch points in the story, that information gets sent back to Netflix to display the appropriate video segment. And it turns out to be possible to discern which branch each viewer took through network packet analysis. In a paper just released through pre-print service ArXiv, “White Mirror: Leaking Sensitive Information from Interactive Netflix Movies using Encrypted Traffic Analysis,” a handful of the institute’s computer scientists show that story choices – sent from the viewer’s browser to Netflix via a JSON file – can be inferred despite the encryption of network traffic.

With Roma, Netflix Could Become Hollywood Royalty

Netflix film Roma is hotly tipped in the best picture category Oscar at Sunday night’s Academy Awards. Were it to win, it would mark a significant moment for digital media in general, and Netflix in particular. Lucas Shaw wrote on Bloomberg News that it would be proof that the company has gone from being a techy outsider to Hollywood royalty. With increased investment in original content, it looks like a tech company will be winning an Oscar in the very near future.

“Roma” is the first nominee for best picture that was essentially a digital release — though it had a limited theatrical run — and Netflix would be the first technology company to clinch Hollywood’s top prize. Whether or not Netflix wins, an online movie will certainly be crowned best picture sooner or later, said Rich Greenfield, an analyst with BTIG LLC. Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. are both spending billions of dollars on programming, and even Walt Disney Co. plans to release digital movies that won’t appear in theaters.

How Netflix Makes the World Smaller With International Culture

An opinion piece by Farhad Manjoo caught my eye. He writes how, instead of Netflix exporting American culture, it shares international culture with everyone.

Despite a supposed surge in nationalism across the globe, many people like to watch movies and TV shows from other countries. “What we’re learning is that people have very diverse and eclectic tastes, and if you provide them with the world’s stories, they will be really adventurous, and they will find something unexpected,” Cindy Holland, Netflix’s vice president for original content, told me.

Mr. Manjoo also mentions the difference between Netflix and other tech companies. Netflix sells subscriptions, not advertising. I think this is an important difference, in case foreigners get a negative impression from our typically garish ads.

Remember Bandersnatch? Netflix Saved Your Choices

Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch is a choose-your-own-adventure game that went viral. As it turns out, Netflix saved the choices you made.

He found that Netflix is tracking the decisions its users make (which makes sense considering how the film works), and that it is keeping those decisions long after a user has finished the film. It is also stores aggregated forms of the users choice to “help [Netflix] determine how to improve this model of storytelling in the context of a show or movie.”

This doesn’t seem like a huge issue to me. This is standard analytics the platform keeps.