Netflix fired a shot across the bow at employees who are offended and even attempting to censor what they deem to be “harmful” expression from some of its content creators.
In a Thursday note distributed companywide, disgruntled workers were told that the streaming platform “offers a diversity of stories, even if we find some titles counter to our own personal values.”
Employees are warned that, depending on their roles, they may need to work with titles that they deem “harmful.” If this is a problem for the worker, Netflix adds, the company “may not be the right place for you.”
Netflix just suffered its first drop in subscribers in over a decade, with roughly 200,000 gone between January and March. More are forecast to evaporate in 2022’s second quarter. Its stock is on a nose-dive over the last several months from a high of almost $700 down to under $200.
The turmoil began with comedian Dave Chappelle’s stand-up special “The Closer” last October. Some staff walked out in protest over what they labeled as “hate speech.” They pointed at several remarks by Chappelle concerning transgender people.
Others attempted to force their way into executive meetings, including trans senior software engineer Terra Field. She along with two others tried to crash the meeting and she was suspended. Field was then reinstated after company officials found “no ill intent.”
Disgruntled employees then published a list of demands. Among them was for Netflix to “avoid future instances of platforming transphobia and hate speech” and to be held accountable for harm already caused. Management was also condemned for failing to support uplifting trans content.
Netflix management pushed back, and in one memo noted that comedians by nature engage in provocative art. While acknowledging that some issues may be “uncomfortable,” the memo said the company believes Chappelle’s stand-up routine is not intended to incite hatred or violence.
Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk recently described the company as being “infected with a woke mind virus.” This came after massive losses by the streaming giant which management blamed on competition and password-sharing.
Netflix’s leadership made it clear in the new “culture memo” that the company supports free artistic expression for creators it works with. Some programming may be provocative, it acknowledged, but it is up to the viewer to decide what is appropriate for themselves.