In this day and age, it feels like every single program, app, service, whatever, wants to know everything about you. Your age, birthday, income bracket, mother’s maiden name, etc., no matter how inconsequential it is, it seems like they want this. One thing that often gets asked for is your location, and Hulu is one of the services that ask that — but why do they?
There are multiple reasons why Hulu may ask you for your location; overall, more data helps streaming services such as Hulu to optimize their platform in terms of recommending movies as well as advertisements. Additionally, Hulu may ask for your location in order to provide Hulu+ channels based on your current region.
Is there a way to prevent Hulu from using my location? And if you’ve given it already, is it possible to change it?
Why Does Hulu Need My Location?
Location data is useful to any streaming service, as it can be used to enhance movie recommendation features and provide Hulu+ channels based on your region. It may also be used to target advertisements to you.
The idea being that advertisers want to target viewers in order to show them what they think would appeal to them the best. However, location data could also be used to suggest recommendations to you, which can be better or worse depending on how far away your tastes are from people in your location.
Do I need to give Hulu my location?
One thing that Hulu does in order to understand where you are located is to request your location. This is done for multiple reasons; in addition to using this data for advertisement and recommendation purposes, knowing where you are located also tells them that you are ‘allowed’ to watch Hulu, as it is only available in the United States for the most part.
Does Hulu sell my location information?
One of the biggest privacy concerns is the worry about social media, streaming services, and other types of websites collecting your data and then selling it. This only got worse back in 2016, due to the Cambridge Analytica controversy with Facebook. Despite the fact that Facebook claimed that they do not sell your data, it was discovered that there was actually a workaround that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg attempted to exploit. Specifically, he decided that, instead of ‘selling’ the data, he would provide the data to his personal friends and people who either spent money or exchanged data himself.
While Facebook may not directly sell data as one would traditionally interpret ‘selling data’ to mean, they do profit from that data, and provide it to other people. As a result, even if they don’t call it such, people rightfully feel cautious about Facebook having their data, causing them to change their data or even deleting their Facebook profile altogether.
As far as Hulu is concerned, Hulu is far less duplicitous – although one could argue that it is still not ideal, particularly in the way they handle it. As mentioned, Hulu uses this information in order to, according to them, improve advertisements as well as improve their recommendations.
How do I remove my location information from Hulu?
It is perfectly understandable why someone may not want to share this information with Hulu. Even beyond the valid privacy concerns, it can be pretty annoying getting advertisements that Hulu deems as relevant to your interests just because of where you live currently. After all, just because you live in Bismarck, North Dakota does not mean that what Hulu thinks is the right fit for you actually is. Even if the ads themselves do not bother you, it may certainly bother you to be told what you are interested in based on an algorithm’s decision.
Even worse is when politics comes into play. Every election cycle, arguably the worst thing you need to worry about (besides fights with friends and family) are the ads. Especially if you’re uninterested in either, or are already set about who you would like to vote for, having the same political ads rammed down your throat over and over is no fun. Even worse is if it’s a local politician, meaning that you might already have negative feelings over them and thus do not want to have to see them over and over again.
The thing with location is, however, that Hulu tracks it not by you telling them where you are located, but rather by them checking out the Internet protocol (IP) address provided by your Internet service provider (ISP). Masking this can be complicated for a variety of reasons, especially if you are watching Hulu on television. Yet, if you are watching on your phone or computer, you may be able to get around them knowing your IP address.
The best way to trick Hulu into not knowing your location is through the use of a virtual private network (VPN), which is used to mask your IP address. How it does this is that, while running, the VPN will provide you with an IP address from a different location. Not only does this keep Hulu from selling your data to advertisers, but it also ensures that others with more nefarious purposes are unable to track you down.
Another great benefit of using a VPN is the fact that, in doing so, you can watch Hulu while outside the US, and can even enjoy libraries of various streaming platforms that aren’t available in the US. Hulu itself is not a prime example of this since Hulu is only available in the US (including some territories) and parts of Japan.
What other information does Hulu ask for?
Location is far from the only thing Hulu tries to find out about you. For example, Hulu also likes to know your age, gender, and more, with the intention of, much like your location data, utilizing it for advertising and recommendation purposes. Much like location data, this kind of information does not necessarily have to be truthful. Thus, you can avoid having to get any targeted ads or recommendations based on these details.