Netflix announced which programs and films it has removed from the platform following requests from various governments around the world. In this report called Environmental Social Governance 2019 (something that could be translated as Social Environment Governance), published on Friday, February 7, 2020, the streaming giant said that nine pieces of content were removed from the platform since its launch services more than a decade ago, at the request of various governments.
During 2019, Netflix only received two content removal requests: an episode of the Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj talk show, which criticized the regime of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia; and The Last Temptation of Christ, in Singapore, since the tape directed by Martin Scorsese in 1988 is banned in that country.
Netflix has already removed one of its titles this 2020 – The Last Hangover was removed in Singapore after a written request from the Infocomm Media Development Authority of that country.
Other content that has been removed from the platform includes:
- The Bridge in New Zealand in 2015, which Netflix said is classified as “objectionable” in the country.
- Full Metal Jacket, in Vietnam in 2017
- Night of the Living Dead, in Germany in 2017, since it is a film prohibited in that country
- Cooking on High, The Legend of 420 and Disjointed, in Singapore in 2018
Netflix’s practices for removing content were questioned last year when it removed the Patriot Act episode in Saudi Arabia from the platform. In addition to attacking the crown prince, the program criticized the military involvement of the kingdom in Yemen and its role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. After a Saudi regulator complained that the program violated a computer crime law, Netflix withdrew the episode.
Critics of the decision made by Netflix crossed out the censorship issue in favor of an oppressive regime, but Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings said the company did not feel bad about having removed the content. “We are not in the news business, we are not trying to bring the truth to power,” Hastings explained in November. “We are trying to entertain.”
Days later, Netflix’s general director of content turned his boss’s statements around. “All entertainment is true to power,” Ted Sarandos said at a Paley Center event. But even though Sarandos noted that Hastings had not made the “best word selection,” he said Netflix needs to circumvent local content laws around the world.
In fact, Netflix has also opposed making removals for requests from some government. At the beginning of the year, a Brazilian judge ordered Netflix to remove a comedy special – called A Primeira Tentação de Cristo (The First Temptation of Christ), different, of course, from the Scorsese movie of a similar name – because it showed a Jesus homosexual. Netflix appealed and the Supreme Court of that country annulled the ruling, allowing the program to remain on the streaming platform.