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Netflix manipulated search results amid controversy over Cuties movie, report says

After drawing criticism over the marketing of Cuties, Netflix downplayed the movie on its platform.

A new report shows Netflix hid a movie from its search results. 
Angela Lang/CNET

Netflix reportedly used its algorithm to hide a French movie from some search results in 2020. Amid backlash over the marketing of a movie called Cuties, the streaming giant suppressed the film on its platform, The Verge reported on Wednesday, citing internal Netflix documents

Cuties is a French film that was intended to critique the sexualization of young girls. Netflix's marketing, which showed young girls, scantily clad, drew criticism, and some critics felt the film itself exploited the same kind of sexualization it was supposed to critique.

Netflix reportedly kept Cuties off its coming soon and popular searches categories, excluded it from searches for "cute," and also made sure searches for Cuties would not also pull up "steamy/sexual titles" or kids movies. 

"Our recommendations help members find great titles to watch amidst all the choices on Netflix. Not every title gets promoted in the same way, just as every member's homepage is different," a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement. 

The report comes as Netflix is dealing with fallout over comedian Dave Chappelle's latest special, The Closer, in which he makes jokes about trans people. Netflix's initial defense of The Closer led employees to plan a walkout. Co-CEO Ted Sarandos eventually said he "screwed up" defending the special.

CNET's Joan E. Solsman contributed to this report.