Dandy Cat

In your Account page on Netflix,1 there’s an option to “Download your personal information.” It’ll provide you with many files, most of them in CSV format, of just about everything you’ve ever done with the service.

It’s fascinating to see your complete history all collected in one place. It’s also a little terrifying to see how much of your activity is being tracked and stored by them. This certainly isn’t unique to Netflix, but is just something I happened upon recently.

A quick sampling of the exhaustive information they gave me:

  • What I’ve put on my watch list, going back to 2016. I’ve been a subscriber since 2012, but I guess 2016 is when they started collecting this data.
  • My entire search history, i.e., every single word or phrase I’ve ever used to look for something.
  • What devices I’ve used to watch their content.
  • What IP addresses I’ve used to access their site and content.

It’s remarkable. A lot of that information is necessary to serve me the recommendations and content I continue to enjoy. I don’t know that they’d be half the company they are without it. However, it’s always surreal to see proof that my personal activity is being stored in a place that I have no control over.2

  1. I’m assuming that this is the same for everyone. However, I live in California and there are statues like CCPA and CalOPPA that may come into play here. Or not, and it’s available to everyone. ↩︎

  2. Likewise, I bet there’s still information about me stored on servers owned by Facebook, despite me having deleted my account years ago. ↩︎