Netflix finally speaks out on ‘Baby Reindeer’ social media issues
(Credits: Netflix)

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Netflix finally speaks out on ‘Baby Reindeer’ social media issues

Netflix has spoken out regarding the intense social media speculation following the release of Baby Reindeer. Comdeniming the actions of fans who have gone hunting for the real life inspiration, they’ve discussed the legalities of dramatising a true story.

Richard Gadd’s new TV series was based on his own true story, but knowing that fact has led audiences to speculate over who inspired the characters of Martha, his stalker, and predatory TV producer, Darrien. 

The creator has already pleaded to viewers to not do this, stating, “Hi everyone, People I love, have worked with, and admire (including Sean Foley) are unfairly caught up in speculation.” He added that this issue had already been raised to the authorities as he continued, “Police have been informed and are investigating all defamatory abusive and threatening posts against me.”

He delivered a request to his fans on social media as he said, “Please don’t speculate on who any of the real-life people could be. That’s not the point of our show.” However, some viewers clearly didn’t listen as fans have tracked down the real life woman behind the character of Martha, leading to her speaking to the press and threatening to sue the show.

With legal issues cropping up and fans still playing detective, Netflix has broken their silence on the matter. The platform’s policy chief, Benjamin King, told a Parliament hearing that the streamer was satisfied with the duty of care standards on the show. They said that Netflix and producer Clerkenwell Films took “every reasonable precaution in disguising the real-life identities of the people involved in that story.”

However, John Nicolson, a Scottish National Party MP who sits on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, pointed out that it clearly wasn’t enough to prevent the character of Martha from being identified online as the real-life stalker has now been found and named. 

But as Baby Reindeer deals with Gadd’s own lived experience, they had to try and balance protecting the subjects with upholding the writer and actor’s “veracity and authenticity”. 

“We didn’t want to anonymize that or make it generic to the point where it was no longer his story because that would undermine the intent behind the show,” King said, adding, “I personally wouldn’t be comfortable with a world in which we decided it was better that Richard was silenced and not allowed to tell the story.”

They recognise the challenge of trying to control social media storms, acknowledging that it’s hard to police the behaviour of fans, even though Gadd has explicitly stated his desire that the people who inspired the characters not be speculated on and be allowed privacy. “Ultimately, it’s obviously very difficult to control what viewers do, particularly in a world where everything is amplified by social media,” King said of the issue.

As the real-life Martha prepares to “set the record straight” in a Piers Morgan interview on Thursday, it seems that the obsession with the true story behind the show might not slow down any time soon.