I live in a country where very very few people use Netflix, therefore it's very rare to see ads about it, because my country is so tiny, Netflix Just don't target it. My country is outside EU, so companies don't have to respect GDPR or any privacy related law as far as I know.

My friend doesn't have Facebook installed on his PS4. He wanted to try Netflix, I created a profile for him from my account so he could try it. He only installed it on PS4 watched few movies and after 2 days, for the first time ever, he started seeing Netflix ads on Facebook.

He never searched for the keyword "Netflix" or watched a YouTube video about Netflix. If Netflix was the one sharing the data, then I should be the one seeing ads, not him, as far as Netflix knows, it's my account.

He has black tape on his webcam. He only used Netflix for about half an hour just to explore it. His laptop wasn't turned on.

He doesn't have Netflix installed on his phone and never visited their site, I wounder how Facebook knew he was using Netflix

  • He uses Huawei and Zorin Os on his PC.irrelevant details, I thought I mention in a comment. And I don't know if I personally would see ads, since I don't use facebook in the first place and I use an ad blocker anyway
    – Lynob
    Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 20:19

1 Answer 1


It's not Facebook that decides on their own to show him a Netflix ad. It works more like this:

Netflix decides they want to advertise to their users on other web and app properties (like Facebook). Netflix says to Facebook- I want to advertise to my users on your platform, so I will provide you with the advertisement, called a creative, and I will provide rules to you so you can identify when my users are visiting your platform. Facebook says- cool, pay me $$, and give me that creative and those rules, and I will show them your ad and give you some statistics on how often it was shown, who clicked on it, etc.

So what rule did Netflix provide to Facebook to allow Facebook to know that your friend was a Netflix user- albeit with a profile under your account?

There are lots of ways, but from what has been provided in the question, the simplest and least sinister is IP address. Your friend visited Netflix from his PS4, which from his home network reaches the internet through his ISP. He also visits Facebook from some other machine on his home network, but which also reaches the internet through his ISP, using the same IP.

Netflix says- I have a user who visited me from IP address X. Facebook says, sure, I have someone who visits from that IP. So the ad gets shown.

(Using a specific IP to target is not allowed under GDPR or- currently- under US law, but is common in other parts of the world.)

Does that help?

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