In a rare moment of contrition, MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe acknowledged misleading both consumers and advertising exec with statements last week that the company tracks the locating of users before and after they go to the movies. “We don’t do the things I described, ” he told TechCrunch. As for locating, “We don’t record it, we don’t save it, we don’t follow it.”
Customers may find this total about-face since last week unconvincing, especially since the company issued an update to the app days after Lowe’s remarks that “removed unused app locating capability.”
That too was inaccurate, Lowe told me. “The update didn’t change anything, merely the menu options.” He afterward wrote to the same effect in a blog post on the company’s site.
The way I portrayed what we do is not accurate.This series of “misstatements, ” as Lowe called them, doesn’t inspire confidence in a company that has openly said that it intends to use exactly this kind of data to build a personalized evening out to its customers — courtesy of advertisers who would make offers based on that data, of course.
But Lowe explained that he was the victim of his own excitement. Talking to a crowd of data mongers at the Entertainment Finance Forum, in a talk specifically about monetizing the data MoviePass collects, he claims to simply have gotten ahead of himself and talked about schemes as if the latter are reality.
“Sometimes I get all excited about our future vision of a night at the movies and building an ecosystem around it, ” he told. “I need to correct what I said. The route I portrayed what we do is not accurate. I connoted we know where you are when you’re on the way to the movies, and that’s not what we do.”
Specifically, he said that the app checks place when the user has the app open in order to determine theaters near them, in case they want to look up movie hours or the like. Then there’s another location check when the user checks in, to make sure they’re at the theater their ticket is for.
“We only know where they are at that instant. Once they go out of the app, we don’t know where they are. We don’t know where they go afterwards, we don’t record it. That’s all we do, that’s all we’ve ever done.”
If the company decides to launch a more comprehensive “night at the movies” service, complete with pre- and post-movie tracking, “we’ll comply by all the rules and acceptable terms by first sending an opt-in or opt-out, explaining in plain English what we are doing with that information.”
As for other changes to the product, Lowe said to expect some new offerings soon.