This last Christmas, Netflix took a bold risk and tweeted, “To the 53 people who've watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days: Who hurt you?” Some thought this tweet hilarious (as the company intended), while others found it invasive and alarming. The buzz of this controversy prompted one Redditor to share their story about Netflix’s monitoring habits.

In their post, they stated that, during a break from college, they watched "The Office" nonstop for more than five days straight. The User explained that they were suffering from an episode of depression.

Netflix noticed this and sent a message to make sure the user was okay. They explained that the viewing activities of this customer had increased in frequency drastically.

"Honestly [it] made me feel better just knowing that someone, even a stranger working at a customer support agency, cared about my mental health," the Reddit user said in their post.

Did they take it too far?

Netflix may have just received an alert that someone who typically watches shows for 4-6 hours spiked to 40-60 hours. Those are the kinds of signs that someone is not well. Netflix may also receive routine statistics on user preferences and records for longest continuous user activity. This Reddit post was made in December 2017.

Netflix introduced the “Are You Still There?” pop-up that comes after three consecutive episodes of a show more than two years ago, so this user either changed their settings to be able to watch shows continuously, or this user actually confirmed that they were still watching every three episodes. If the latter were the case, Netflix would definitely have reason to question ten straight days of television, and check the typical user trends.

Netflix is just the tip of the iceberg

The latest controversy is actually related to Smart TVs in general. According to Brian Barrett of Wired, Vizio paid a $2.2 million fine to the FTC for selling user data to advertising companies and was required to delete all data collected prior to March 1, 2016. Alarming to some: they’re not the only company to monitor activity -- they’re just the first caught selling it.

A few ways to avoid being “watched” by your TV include “dumbing down” your platform -- using a streaming box like AppleTV and Roku, installing devices like ChromeCast that allow you to project a different screen onto your TV, or just uninstalling the internet from your TV altogether.

Opinions about the level of involvement a server has with the user still fluctuate. On social media platforms, it is a productive way to remove the promotion of toxic behaviors (eating disorders, bullying, nudity, etc.). On music sites, it is promoted as a way to suggest more music for listeners in their specific genre taste. Internet browsers allow cookies that track activity so that they can offer advertisements related to each account.

The age of privacy is coming to a close. The best way to stay off the grid is to not participate at all, which is becoming harder and harder to do. At least this new trend is about self-care and fun!