A woman has spoken out after noticing her Netflix suggestions focused on queer storylines and bi characters 'a few months before' she even realised herself she's bisexual.
The student found herself getting 'more and more recommendations for series with lesbian storylines, or bi characters'.
This wouldn't have seemed off to Ellie had her friends - 'people of a similar age, with a similar background and similar streaming histories' - not been recommended anywhere near the same sort of content as her by the service.
For example, Ellie - a BBC journalist - reflects she was recommended a programme called You Me Her - described as TV's 'first polyromantic comedy'.
She wrote: "I realised that I was bisexual in my second year of university, but Big Tech seemed to have worked it out several months before me."
Ellie explained You Me Her is 'tagged with the genre code '100010' - or LGBTQ+ Stories to a human eye,' to help 'decide which videos, images and trailers populate a user's home page'.
She continued: "The goal of the recommender system is to marry the person using the platform with the content.
"This digital matchmaker takes in information on both sides, and draws connections. Things like the genre of a song, what themes are explored in a film, or which actors are in a TV show can all be tagged. Based on this, the algorithm will predict who is most likely to engage with what."
University of Cambridge PhD student in computational social psychology Greg Serapio-Garcia weighed in on Ellie's recommendations, noting 'no one is explicitly telling Netflix that they're gay' but Netflix can tell if you've liked 'queer content' even if the shows aren't specifically labelled LGBTQ+.
And it wasn't just Netflix which was recommending Ellie that sort of content either.
Her TikTok feed was flooded with content from bisexual creators and her Spotify suggested her a playlist described as 'sapphic' - a word used to describe women who love women.
Ellie is now questioning just how 'powerful' the 'recommendation system[s]' used by platforms such as Netflix truly are.
Intrigued as to what information Netflix has about her as a user, Ellie decided to download all of her information from her account.
She said: "Netflix sent me a spreadsheet which detailed every trailer and programme I had watched, when, on what device, and whether it had auto-played or whether I'd selected it.
"There was no evidence that any of these platforms had tagged anything to do with my sexuality. "
As per Netflix's website: "The titles you watched more recently will outweigh titles you watched in the past in terms of driving our recommendations system.
"We take feedback from every visit to the Netflix service and continually re-train our algorithms with those signals to improve the accuracy of their prediction of what you’re most likely to watch.
"Our data, algorithms, and computation systems continue to feed into each other to produce fresh recommendations to provide you with a product that brings you joy."
"In addition, our algorithms don't make predictions about sexual orientation based on a user's listening preference."
LADbible has contacted Netflix, Spotify and TikTok for comment.