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Netflix tells ‘woke’ staff to tolerate diverse opinions or find new jobs

Netflix has told staff they must tolerate different points of view or find another job after the “woke” streaming giant suffered its first drop in subscribers for a decade.

In a memo to employees, the company instructed staff not to “censor” content that they disagree with even if they find it “provocative”.

The warning shot comes after Netflix executives and junior workers clashed over remarks made by stand-up comedian Dave Chappelle about transgender people.

Staff at the technology company walked out in protest last year over “hate speech” in Mr Chappelle’s show, The Closer, including his remarks that “gender is a fact”.

Their calls to remove the programme were rebuffed by Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s bosses, who argued that such a move would have impinged on artistic expression.

They now appear to have formalised this stance in an internal memo, just weeks after the company revealed a drop of 200,000 subscribers in the first three months of 2022.

The memo, first reported by Variety, says: “Entertaining the world is an amazing opportunity and also a challenge because viewers have very different tastes and points of view.

“Not everyone will like — or agree with — everything on our service.

“While every title is different, we approach them based on the same set of principles: we support the artistic expression of the creators we choose to work with; we program for a diversity of audiences and tastes; and we let viewers decide what’s appropriate for them, versus having Netflix censor specific artists or voices.

“As employees we support the principle that Netflix offers a diversity of stories, even if we find some titles counter to our own personal values.

“Depending on your role, you may need to work on titles you perceive to be harmful.

“If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.”

It comes after Elon Musk, the billionaire boss of Tesla who is attempting a takeover of social network Twitter, separately accused Netflix of becoming infected with a “woke mind virus”.

A row over Mr Chappelle’s show first erupted after his 72-minute special, The Closer, was released on Netflix in October 2021.

During the performance, the comedian accused gay and transgender people of being “too sensitive”.

“They cancelled JK Rowling – my God,” he said.

“She said gender was fact, the trans community got mad as s—, they started calling her a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist)… I’m team TERF.

“Gender is a fact. Every human being in this room, every human being on earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on earth. This is a fact.”

Afterwards, Netflix staff staged protest walkouts and some tried to force their way into executive meetings.

A letter with a list of demands they later published called on the company to “avoid future instances of platforming transphobia and hate speech, and to account for the harm we have caused”.

However, Mr Hastings stood by Mr Chappelle, saying Netflix would continue to work with him.

“I do believe that our commitment to artistic expression and pleasing our members is the right long-term choice for Netflix, and that we are on the right side, but only time will tell,” he wrote on an internal staff message board. 

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