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Policy Update

August 15th, 2009 by Eugene Wei SVP, Audience

With the latest change in our terms of use (TOU) and privacy policy, we now display your full name if you write a review or post to any of our discussion forums. We posted the new TOU and privacy policy for a month before requiring users to agree to it upon login, but many of you have been wondering why we made that change. (I am shocked, shocked, to discover that no one reads those dense and riveting legal documents.)

Here are the reasons. First, we don’t ask a lot of our users to watch all of the content on our site, but we do ask that people be civil in our community areas, like reviews and discussion forums. While anonymity has many benefits to society, helping to maintain a civil community online is not one of them. One way of reducing the random offensive comments and troll activity is to ask people to stand behind their words with their real names. We’re under no illusions that this is a silver bullet (a thought that occurred to me recently as I responded to a user named Fred Flintstone, though perhaps his parents really did have an interesting sense of humor), but it’s something we require moving forward.

As with many online communities, most of our users are friendly and reasonable, but the rants of a minority of loud and belligerent few can overwhelm the voices of the well-meaning majority. We’ll continue to prune the reviews and discussion forums by hand, but we can no longer scale to handle the volume of user-submitted content coming in our doors each day now.

The other reason for this change is that we envision a future where online video viewing is more social than the solitary act it tends to be today, and without gathering real names from our users it’s hard to lay the foundation for that. Even with a user’s real name and location, it’s still often hard to tell who someone that wants to be your friend actually is, as I’ve learned with some of the outstanding friend requests I’ve left untouched on Facebook for several months now. Of course, participation in all of these community offerings on Hulu, from reviews and forums to future social features, will continue to be voluntary, but we think there’s room for some groundbreaking advances in online viewing in the future and we’re laying the groundwork for that.

This change applies only to reviews and discussion posts written since the new TOU and privacy policy went into effect. If you’ve written any reviews or posted to any forums since then and wish for us to remove them, feel free to point us at them via a note to and we’ll pull them. (It’s most helpful if you can provide the Permalink URL to your post; this can be found by clicking on the “Permalink” link that appears to the right of your post.) We in no way want you to interpret this as pressure to write only good reviews of the content on our site, or to agree with every other user in our forums.

As part of this change, all of us at Hulu will be using our full names in all our communications with you, too. We won’t ask anything of you that we wouldn’t hold ourselves to.

Thanks,
Eugene Wei

Last comment: Sep 10th 2014 7 Comments
  • Anthony says:

    I fully comprehend the reasons for the update. However, it may also create problems. For some users, a name could reveal more personal information such as an address. Those adept with open-source intelligence could pry even further and reveal confidential information, like bank-statements or an SSN. Public entities better know how to protect information like this, but the average user does not.

  • Sonny Wiktor says:

    Simply wanna remark that you have a very decent website , I like the design it actually stands out.

  • [...] explanation for the policy change stressed the value of real names in promoting civility: [W]e don’t ask a lot of our users to [...]

  • [...] explanation for the policy change stressed the value of real names in promoting civility: [W]e don’t ask a lot of our users to [...]

  • Glad to see another site fighting for civil discourse on the Internet. You guys do a great job here.

  • Pax says:

    This is a good first step but will ultimately be ineffective. As you stated, you simply don’t collect enough information to identify users so new anonymous accounts will be created.

    A digg-style bury mechanism might be a better approach to the problem so that the community has a chance to police itself. The comment can be automagically deleted (via DB flag only – no actual deletion) after some arbitrary number of buries (let’s say 10). If the offending user continues to make comments that are consistently buried, their ability to make future comments are suspended until such time that they appeal. Admin (you guys) could then reset the numbers for this specific user. The user’s main login screen should also indicate how close they are to having their commenting privileges suspended.

    This frees you guys to simply following up on appeals (with some backend resetting via the Admin ControlPanel for successful appeals). This would also reduce the amount of dead accounts by some smaller amount.

    Conversely… users who consistently make positive comments (voted up) should be rewarded somehow. Some ideas here but don’t want to make this post too long.

    I’m sure all of this has been tabled and discussed already as possible future implementations just wanted to post these thoughts anyway.

    Keep up the great work Hulu!

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