Netflix: The Addictive Algorithm


Antoinette Aho, Editor-in-Chief

Netflix caters to over 60 million households in the US. Their platform carries movies, shows, and documentaries ranging in genres. But in recent years, the platform has thrived off of violence based shows and documentaries.

From the likes of “Making a Murderer” which premiered in 2015 sharing the life of Steven Avery, who committed sexual assault and attempted murder – to the recent show “You”, currently approaching the second season, which follows the life of a stalker who during the first few episodes kidnaps a man, hides him in a small, plexiglass room and eventually kills him.

These productions are merely two of several, surrounding violence, that Netflix has recently released. Others include “The Murder of Madeleine McCann”, a documentary series that follows the unsolved abduction of a young British girl during a family trip to Portugal. “13 Reasons Why,” which tells the suicide of Hannah Baker, the show has been one of the most consecutively watched on Netflix. Even the viral “Birdbox”, a show in which characters encounter death after being face-to-face with their worst fears.

If this genre is in high demand and continues to bring big business, it sounds as though Netflix has no reason to stop.

But although consumers are watching this content, it does not mean that Netflix should be providing it.

Violent, sometimes crime based productions are no doubt intriguing, but they can provoke mental illnesses and induce great fear in viewers.

Notably, those who “binge watch” shows like those listed above may experience a greater tolerance to violence in real life, researchers from Purdue University and UCSD state these productions can leave a lingering-fear, resulting in sleep disturbances and other problems.

Furthermore, Netflix strongly persuades viewers to continue watching via their autoplay feature. For instance, during a series, the next episode will automatically begin in a few seconds. This instant gratification makes it difficult for consumers to take a break from the screen.

With mental illness on the rise, highly popular and profitable platforms such as Netflix should hold the social responsibly to create a safer environment for customers.