One of the most controversial movies of last year was Maimouna Doucoure’s Cuties, which opened up a can of online worms long before Netflix subscribers had even gotten a chance to see it and discover if the backlash was warranted.
The French coming-of-age drama was blasted from all corners of the internet, with petitions demanding the streamer pull it from the library, while social media campaigns rallied people to cancel their subscriptions, and the company were indicted in Texas for making it available to the general public.
Doucoure was even subjected to death threats, but despite a fleeting appearance on the Top 10 most-watched list, Cuties came and went without incident. As it turns out, that may have something to do with Netflix manipulating its own algorithm to try and stem the tide of criticism.
The Verge obtained internal documents that reportedly show how Netflix suppressed Cuties by removing it from the Coming Soon, More Like This and Popular Searches sections of the library, omitted it from the results when users searched for the word ‘cute’ and generally kept a lid on the film showing up to anyone unless they deliberately went looking for it, which goes against the public stance that saw the well-reviewed drama defended at every turn.