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Netflix orginal series "Stranger Things." Photo: Netflix.
Concern over how Netflix tweaks promos for individual users highlights the challenges internet companies face when deciding just how much to personalize their services.
Driving the news: Stacia Brown, an audio producer and Netflix user, pointed out on Thursday via Twitter that it appeared Netflix was explicitly overplaying the role of black actors in her feed, leading her her to wonder if it was targeting customers based on race.
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, reports Axios' Marisa Fernandez.
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.
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.
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.
Bottom line: There aren't always easy answers here, but without a lot of forethought, it's easy to go wrong.
Go deeper: Read the full story here.
European data regulator Věra Jourová. Photo: Emmanual Dunand/AFP/Getty Images
U.S. officials have entered the second day of discussions with their European counterparts in Brussels over the status of the Privacy Shield agreement, which allows Europeans to file complaints about how U.S. companies are using their data, Axios' David McCabe and Shannon Vavra report.
Why it matters: U.S. companies prize the agreement because it lets them easily host the data of European citizens stateside despite the differing regulatory regimes on the two sides of the Atlantic. This is the first time the arrangement is being reviewed since Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica data scandal triggered a privacy reckoning in the U.S.
What’s next: On Friday, the group is expected to tackle "developments concerning the collection of personal data by U.S. authorities for purposes of law enforcement or national security," per the European Commission.
The bottom line: Depending on how the talks go, the European Commission's concerns could be reflected in a formal report expected by the end of November.
Apple's mid-range iPhone XR goes up for pre-order Friday, while the company has scheduled an Oct. 30 event in New York to introduce more gear.
The details: The iPhone XR uses a lower-end screen technology and lacks some of the camera and other features of the Apple XS, but also comes with a less daunting price tag. It will hit store shelves next week, but pre-orders began at midnight.
Separately, Apple is holding an event in Brooklyn where the company is expected to introduce new hardware. The most likely candidate is an iPad that trades the physical fingerprint-reading home button for Face ID and an edge-to-edge screen.
Uber drivers could soon do more than shuttle passengers or food orders in their cars. The company is quietly testing a new service, Uber Works, for on-demand labor for businesses, according to the Financial Times.
The bottom line: After driving and food delivery, Uber wants to see if it can harness its massive labor pool for other purposes, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva writes. It could also burnish its image with new lines of business as it prepares to go public likely next year.
Details: Uber has been testing the new project in Chicago, after a brief experiment in Los Angeles, according to the FT.
Déjà vu: Uber is far from the first company to think of offering on-demand labor to other businesses.
It was only a matter of time before Amazon Go, the online giant's futuristic new cashier-free stores, made it to San Francisco. Amazon is slated to open its first store in the city’s Financial District, according to records obtained by the SF Chronicle.
Why it matters: After directly contributing to the decline of a number of brick-and-mortar stores and chains through the benefits of e-commerce, Amazon now wants to own physical retail, too — but with its own twist of being cashierless, Kia writes.
Not the first: A number of other startups are developing automated stores or tech to sell to retailers so they can automate on their own.