Last week I reported that MoviePass tracks its users on the way to the theater and on the way back home. That’s what CEO Mitch Lowe said at a conference in Hollywood during Oscar week, adding the popular movie ticket buying company collects “an enormous amount of data” from the folks who subscribe to the service.
This evening Lowe released a letter to members in which he apologized and said the app does not track and has never tracked the location of members at any point when the app is not active.
For the uninitiated, MoviePass is (right now) the best deal on the internet for people who like going to movie theaters. After downloading the free app, users subscribe to the service for $9.99/month. When you arrive at a participating theater (most) open the app, select the movie you want to see and check-in using the app. MoviePass then reserves a seat for you and deposits the cost of the ticket to a MasterCard debit card which is sent to you when you subscribe.
When you get to the ticket window you simply use the debit card to pay for your ticket.
I subscribed last September and I’ve more than gotten my money’s worth going to 1 or 2 movies a week. Most times I buy popcorn and a soda to support the theater since that’s how theater chains make revenue to keep the lights on (and off).
Lowe said then that the data collected was going to be used to help create and encourage a ‘movie night’ for its users, suggesting future updates might send relevant coupons and information based on location.
Some MoviePass subscribers were none too happy because MoviePass had not revealed this in its Terms of Service and Privacy agreements.
I agree but you know what? I wouldn’t have cared if MoviePass knew what restaurants I passed on the way to the theater. I would not care if MoviePass knew what I did after the credits rolled. Here’s why:
I expect I’m being followed by the apps on my phone. If I’m eating at McDonald’s I’m not surprised if I get a coupon for Buy 1 Get 1 Free Big Macs from GasBuddy or any of the other apps on my phone. I’m not surprised because that is the way of the digital world today. It’s why I get relevant coupons and discounts on my computer screen when I’m checking Gmail. It’s why I see an ad for DisneyWorld vacations after I searched for Orlando, Florida vacations on my phone or computer.
I realize that MoviePass does not care if Jamey Tucker is eating at Applebees after seeing “Black Panther”. It cares that the owner of this iPhone X is eating at Applebees.
Like other freebies on the internet like Yelp, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Google, MoviePass can watch my trip to the theater and back home again. I’m not that interesting. It is a bad move to not reveal that information before I sign up.
According to MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe, it wasn’t included in the terms because it didn’t really happen.