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Lust Stories Makers Happy With Empowered Platform Like Netflix

"That is why there is more scope for the digital platforms to reach out to these urban pockets than cinema halls. The idea is not one versus the other... The approach is more inclusive."

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Netflix is an empowered platform- Karan Johar. Pixabay
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Four Indian filmmakers Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar and Dibakar Banerjee — each known for their unique style — have come together for the anthology “Lust Stories”, which will be out on Netflix next month. They are happy to associate with an “empowered platform”, which allows their creativity to be showcased far and wide.

At the trailer launch of “Lust Stories” here on Friday, when asked if Netflix has given them extra freedom as there is no censorship on digital media, Karan said: “Look, we are not showing the film on Netflix because there is a lot of freedom (in terms of censorship). We are showing the film because of its reach.

“Netflix reaches 190 countries. For a filmmaker and storyteller, it is important to reach out to the widest audience with our story. There is no scene in the film that might get censored…Netflix is an empowered platform with a worldwide popularity.”

Karan’s short film features Vicky Kaushal, Kiara Advani and Neha Dhupia.

Ronnie Screwvala, one of the producers of the film, said: “Netflix is a global platform. We have been trying to do crossover cinema for 100 years, and now people will get a chance to do crossover cinema. Now we have an audience (through Netflix) that caters to a wider audience, not just to the South Asian (audience), but all over. That is a great opportunity.”

How are they planning to reach out to rural India where people may not necessarily have access to mobile phones, Screwvala said: “If we are talking about rural India, of course, it will take time to reach. But when we look at the footfall and box office collection, 60 per cent of it comes from metro cities like Delhi and Mumbai.

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Lust Stories will be out on Netflix from next month. Bollywood Country

“That is why there is more scope for the digital platforms to reach out to these urban pockets than cinema halls. The idea is not one versus the other… The approach is more inclusive.”

Actress Bhumi Pednekar, who features in Zoya’s short story, said: “As actors and filmmakers, we want our stories to reach as many people as possible, and Netflix is one of such platforms. I think the digital audience is braver and more accepting towards new content. They are looking for new stories.”

Asked if practising freedom of expression is easier on a digital platform, Zoya said: “Yes and no… I mean there is not something we are showing in the film that cannot be shown otherwise.”

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Talking about the given freedom on a digital platform for the filmmakers and viewers, Dibakar said: “You see, as filmmakers we will find our way even within the limited freedom we are given. But this platform has given freedom to the audience.

“I believe that freedom is about having a choice. If we do not have the choice, then freedom is a theoretical discussion. So I think with this platform, the audience should have the choice to experience an intimate experience with few people or with oneself… So this platform provides more freedom to the audience than filmmakers.”

The film “Lust Stories” will release on June 15. (BollywoodCountry)

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Facebook Lets Selected Companies Access User’s Data

Friends' data had stoked the growth of many apps because it enabled people to easily connect with Facebook buddies on a new service.

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This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

Facebook Inc let some companies, including Netflix and Airbnb, access users’ lists of friends after it cut off that data for most other apps around 2015, according to documents released on Wednesday by a British lawmaker investigating fake news and social media.

The 223 pages of internal communication from 2012 to 2015 between high-level employees, including founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, provide new evidence of previously aired contentions that Facebook has picked favorites and engaged in anti-competitive behavior.

The documents show that Facebook tracked growth of competitors and denied them access to user data available to others.

In 2014, the company identified about 100 apps as being either “Mark’s friends” or “Sheryl’s friends” and also tracked how many apps were spending money on Facebook ads, according to the documents, referring to Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.

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A smartphone user displays a Facebook newsfeed .VOA

The insight into the thinking of Facebook executives over that period could invite new regulatory scrutiny into its business practices.

Facebook said it stood by its deliberations and decisions, but noted that it would relax one “out-of-date” policy that restricted competitors’ use of its data.

One document said such competitor apps had previously needed Zuckerberg’s approval before using tools Facebook makes available to app developers.

Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Wednesday that the company could have prevented the Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal had it cracked down on app developers a year earlier in 2014.

Misuse of Facebook user data by Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, along with another data breach this year and revelations about Facebook’s lobbying tactics have heightened government scrutiny globally on the company’s privacy and content moderation practices.

Stifel analysts on Wednesday lowered their rating on Facebook shares to “hold,” saying that “political and regulatory blowback seems like it may lead to restrictions on how Facebook operates, over time.”

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A television photographer shoots the sign outside of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. VOA

Damian Collins, a Conservative British parliamentarian who leads a committee on media and culture, made the internal documents public after demanding them last month under threat of sanction from Six4Three.

The defunct app developer obtained them as part of its ongoing lawsuit in California state court alleging that Facebook violated promises to app developers when it ended their access to likes, photos and other data of users’ friends in 2015.

Facebook, which has described the Six4Three case as baseless, said the released communications were “selectively leaked” and it defended its practices.

‘Whitelisted’ for Access to friends’ data

Though filed under seal and redacted in the lawsuit, the internal communications needed to be made public because “they raise important questions about how Facebook treats users’ data, their policies for working with app developers, and how they exercise their dominant position in the social media market,” Collins said on Twitter.

Dating app Badoo and ride-hailing app Lyft were among other companies ‘whitelisted’ for access to data about users’ friends, the documents showed.

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A Facebook logo is displayed at a start-up companies’ gathering in Paris, France. VOA

Lyft wanted to show carpool riders their mutual friends as an “ice breaker,” even if those friends were not using Lyft, according to one email. Facebook said in an email that it approved the request because it would add to a feeling of “safety” for riders.

Facebook described such deals as short-term extensions, but it is unclear exactly when the various agreements ended. Netflix, Airbnb, Lyft and Badoo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The documents show an exchange between Zuckerberg and senior executive Justin Osofsky in 2013, in which they decided to stop giving friends’ list access to Vine on the day that social media rival Twitter Inc launched the video-sharing service.

“We’ve prepared reactive PR,” Osofsky wrote, to which Zuckerberg replied, “Yup, go for it.” Twitter declined to comment.

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A protester wearing a mask with the face of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is flanked by two fellow activists wearing angry face emoji masks, during a protest against Facebook policies, in London, Britain (From archives) VOA

Friends’ data had stoked the growth of many apps because it enabled people to easily connect with Facebook buddies on a new service.

Also Read: Employees at Facebook Looking For Better Opportunities in Future

Facebook weighed charging other apps for access to its developer tools, including the friends lists, if they did not buy a certain amount of advertising from Facebook, according to the emails. In one from 2012, Zuckerberg wrote that he was drawing inspiration for business models from books he had been reading about the banking industry.

Facebook said it ultimately maintained free access to the tools. (VOA)