Netflix's Million Dollar Contest Shut Down Amidst Privacy Concerns

Yesterday, Netflix announced that they're pulling the plug on the sequel to their supercool Netflix Prize in which teams competed to improve the company's recommendation algorithm for a million dollar reward. Privacy: can't live with it, can't live without it.

In December, a woman filed a lawsuit against Netflix in which she claimed that their identity (as well as her movie-watching history) could be divined from the huge, anonymous data set Netflix provided to contest participants.

That suit brought Netflix's contest to the attention of the FTC, who raised more questions about all this privacy business, and yesterday Neil Hunt, Netflix's Chief Product Officer, said they were cancelling the contest for good.

This is a bummer! I guess if I thought my movie rentals reflected some part of my personality that I wanted to keep hidden—like if I just happened to be exclusively renting movies that featured very attractive animated female characters, like Space Jam or Who Framed Roger Rabbit—I wouldn't want people digging around in my Netflix history either. But the Netflix Prize was a cool intersection of geekery and business, and I'm sad to see it go. [New York Times]

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