A few times in the past week I have heard mention of Netflix.

Some people seem to think this is a Good Thing so I decided yesterday to have a look at them.  I just wanted to see what the fuss was about.

I typed the name into the browser and it came up with a company that makes clips to fix a net to a goalpost.  I pondered this for a moment and decided something was wrong.  I was right.  I had misspelled their name.

I got into the site and had a look around.

OK, so it’s another variation on the video shop theme.  I have had membership of a video shop in the past, and have also been a member of one of those places that sends you your DVD of choice through the post.

I had a poke around the offerings of this latest crowd and as I suspected, it’s a load of crap.  I’m not blaming the company, but there just aren’t many decent films out there.  There are some, but I have either seen them or I can live without them.  There wasn’t a single offering in Netflix that I wanted to see.

Then I noticed something strange.


That white square on their front page is trying to entice me to sign up.  And the strange thing is that it lists four of my Facebook contacts.  I thought that this must be just a remarkable coincidence that they should happen to pick four people that I know.

I reloaded the page.  The four “friends” changed all right but I still knew them all.  Each time I loaded the page it threw up people I know.

I have a very simple question at this point.

To list my Facebook “friends” they must know who I am.


How the fuck do they know that it’s me looking at their site?  I never gave them my name, address or anything.  I just typed their address into the browser without giving any hint as to who I am.  I didn’t follow a link that might have all those strings of letters that let the site know my identity.

I can only come up with one answer and that is that somewhere I have one of those “cookie” yokes belonging to Facebook sitting on my puter, and somehow Netflix have managed to read it, which I thought wasn’t possible.

One way or another, I find it rather creepy.

And no.  I won’t be joining.

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The invasion of Netflix — 18 Comments

  1. I doubt they know who you are, they probably just plonk a standard Facebook widget on their site and let Facebook dish out it’s own content, much like a website inside an iframe tag.

    It’s like when scammers used to freak people out by using a frame tag in a website with the source pointed to “C:” and the scary words underneath it, like “oooh I see your files”. When people loaded the page it would show the contents on their harddrive but in reality that was purely a local trick happening on the users machine.

    I’m more worried about how will a large scale adoption of Netflix will affect already dodgy Irish broadband speeds.

  2. It’s a Facebook widget using their “social graph”. Basically you’re logged into Facebook. The widget or application polls Facebook, sees you’re logged in and then displays your “friends”.

  3. Gammagoblin – That is plausible.  However the friends they threw up on my screen are all people who have signed up for the free offer.  Could the widget be sophisticated enough to do that?

  4. Michele – Welcome back!  So they see that I am logged in [even though I am not in Facbook at the time], trot over to Facebook and poll my friends and match them against the people who have already signed up?  That seems bloody complicated?

  5. Probably just those users voluntarily integrating their Netflix account into Facebook, for services like “recently watched on Netflix” info in their Facebook stream or something.

  6. Hollywood movies are made for teens and stupid American teens at that. I watched The Guard the other day. Brendan Gleeson?  Filmed in  Galway, I think. Not bad.

  7. Gammagoblin – That fecking Facebook has a lot to answer for.  I just cannot understand this modern fetish for announcing every move on the Interweb.

    Cat – No comment.  Huh!

    TT – The only crap that seems to be made these days is the likes of “romcom” [a term I abhor] or yer man Van Damme blowing something up.  Good films come around every six months to a year.  The Guard is one that I am looking forward to [I like Brendan Gleeson] but it can wait until I am ready.

  8. Thanks for the research Grandad.  Just saved me the hassle.

    Just out of interest if you went incognito (google) would they capture your ip address and then use it?  

  9. I’ve just had a look and I don’t have any friends there – mind you I don’t do Facebook so it’s not surprising……Billy-No-Mates that’s me. 

  10. JOS – I haven’t a clue what they can [or can’t] do.  Maybe one of these day’s I try using one of those anonymous poxy servers or whatever they are called.  In the meantime anything they do find out about me will be fuck all use to them!

    Dave – Why would you be there?  I did explicitly say “friends” did I not?

    Meltemian – Never mind.  You always have me?

  11. I’ve been a member of Netflix for a couple of months now.  If you take the time to dig through their selection of movies there are some gems in there.  I just watched “Winter in Wartime” and before that I saw “Sarah’s Key”.  Next up is  a french flick called “Love Crime”.  After that is “The Guard” and a Swedish movie called”Trollhunter”.  Again, if you take the time to dig through there are allot of very good movies available to rent from them and at 8 bucks a months it’s very well worth it.  I can’t speak to their faecebook widget because I don’t have a faecebook account.

  12. Brianf – I’m not saying that there aren’t any decent films.  I just know from experience that we would end up watching any old shite because it was there, if you know what I mean.  Having been a member of a couple of video libraries and a couple of DVD clubs we have just about seen everything!  And don’t forget the 600 or 700 channels of unadulterated crap from the satellite!

    Dave – Well…  if you will insist on changing personality every two minutes?  It’s getting hard to keep track of you all.

  13. Grandad,
    Check if you have “Keep me logged in” checked on Facebook’s login page. If this is checked, then the Facebook widgets can still access your Facebook profile. Double check this checkbox and clean your Facebook cookie too.

  14. Well I don’t know the answer Grandad, but I find it seriously creepy too. 

    The first couple of comments seem to offer a plausible answer, but that still doesn’t explain how only friends who’d signed up for Netflix showed up.

    All I know is there’s so much stuff going on behind the scenes now that we really shouldn’t think too hard about it or we may end up having to take some consequences and pull the plug!

    On the subject of Netflix itself. Totally over rated. But no more so than all the premium movie channels we have here. There are plenty of good movies out there, but somehow they never end up on Netflix or any of the premium channels. I’ve often pondered why that is.


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