Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

A Netflix orginal series, "Stranger Things." Photo: Netflix.

Concern over how Netflix tweaks promos for individual users — recently reignited by a Twitter thread questioning if race and gender are being targeted — highlights the challenges internet companies face when deciding just how much to personalize their services.

Why it matters: Netflix says its artwork personalization algorithms aren't based on race, ethnicity, gender or location, but on a user's viewing behavior. However, it's hard to say if viewers' preferences on genres or even minority actors have been picked up by algorithms that then personalize promotional artwork.

Driving the news: A Twitter thread from Thursday (seen below) reopened the conversation on if Netflix's artwork personalization algorithms target users based on gender or race.

  • Screenshots emerged from Netflix users — such as the one showing Netflix's movie "Like Father." The movie stars white actors, Kristen Bell and Kelsey Grammer, but the thumbnail instead shows Leonard Ouzts and Blaire Brooks, two black supporting actors.
  • Further exploration through the thread reveals even more instances of relatively marginal black characters in movies and TV shows that shared a similar coincidence.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

In a statement, Netflix reiterated that "reports that we look at demographics when personalizing artwork are untrue."

"We don't ask members for their race, gender or ethnicity so we cannot use this information to personalize their individual Netflix experience," Netflix said. "The only information we use is a member's viewing history. In terms of thumbnails, these do differ and regularly change. This is to ensure that the images we show people are useful in deciding which shows to watch."

The other side: Cindy Holland, VP of original series, said at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in July that "demographics are not a good indicator of what people like to watch” on Netflix.

  • "The artwork may highlight an actor that you recognize, capture an exciting moment like a car chase, or contain a dramatic scene that conveys the essence of a movie or TV show," per a Netflix blog post from 2017.

Yes, but: Sometimes the tension goes the other way. Facebook no longer lets advertisers exclude users based on demographics, in part to prevent discrimination in hiring or other areas. It also removed the ability to target people based on whether they are interested in a same-sex romantic interest.

Our thought bubble: In many cases, that's clearly a good thing. Job listings that only target men would be bad, as would housing listings that seek to exclude people of color.

  • But what about a company that wants to boost its diversity by reaching out to folks with underrepresented backgrounds. What, for example, is the online analog to recruiting at a job fair at a historically black college?
  • And the restrictions can have other downsides. Groups that provide services to the LGBT community, for example, have said that removing the ability to target the people they serve makes their online advertising a lot less effective.

The bottom line: There aren't always easy answers here, but without a lot of forethought, it's easy to go wrong.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

44 mins ago - Health

Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A COVID-19 intensive Care Unit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on May 27, 2021. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.

By the numbers: Catholics, Biden and abortion

Expand chart
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

President Biden — the second Catholic U.S. president — will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday, as some church leaders debate whether to deny Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

By the numbers: Overall, two in three U.S. Catholics believe Biden should be allowed to take Communion despite his stance on abortion, according to polling by Pew Research Center.

Texas House probes school library books dealing with race and sexuality

Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Texas state Rep. Matt Krause, chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, announced Wednesday that he's initiating a probe into schools' library books, according to a letter sent to the state's education agency and other superintendents.

Why it matters: The probe focuses on books that discuss race, sexuality or "make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex," Krause wrote in the letter.