IMDb Updates Policy to Allow Users to Withhold Age

IMDb Updates Policy to Allow Users to Withhold Age

Seemingly putting an end to a long battle over information listed on IMDb profiles, the online entertainment database is rolling out changes that will authorize industry professionals to control the age and name information included on their pages.

New policy and product changes are enabling users with free or standard IMDbPro memberships plans to decide whether to submit their own age, birth date, birth name and alternate name information or to verify that information, the online database announced on Tuesday. Users can then decide whether to display this information on their IMDb or IMDBPro profiles.

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According to the Amazon-owned company, the changes are “part of an ongoing commitment from IMDb to support progress towards more equitable hiring in the entertainment industry, and align with the IMDb mission to be the most accurate and complete source of entertainment information.” The company consulted with performers’ union SAG-AFTRA as well as diversity, equity and inclusion-focused organizations such as Women in Film, GLAAD, the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, IllumiNative and others in making the policy decision.

“By working closely with these groups, listening to our customers, and advancing our products and policies to empower entertainment industry professionals to self-identify and verify information about themselves and their careers — with the aim of helping industry decision-makers discover and hire them — we believe we are best supporting all IMDb customers and the entertainment industry overall,” IMDb founder and CEO Col Needham said in a statement.

SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher celebrated the changes in a message to union members on Tuesday, calling it a “major step forward.” She wrote, “This means professionals can choose how they want to represent themselves to fans and industry decision-makers. And it will make it easier for casting directors, producers and others to discover and hire talent from all backgrounds for their project.”

Lack of control over public-facing age and name information on IMDb profiles has long rankled some in the industry. About a decade ago, actress Huong Hoang sued IMDb for unveiling her age, claiming that in an industry where “youth is king,” the revelation cost her jobs. (IMDb ultimately won the suit in 2013.) In 2017, then-California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a privacy bill supported by SAG-AFTRA that required online entertainment employment services to remove subscribers’ age information upon request. One year later, however, following a lawsuit from IMDb, a U.S. District Judge found that the law was unconstitutional.

These new policy changes, in addition to others that have recently been implemented, appear to resolve some of these lingering tensions. In 2019, IMDb rolled out changes that allowed industry workers to decide whether to include their birth name, if it differed from their professional or chosen name, on their public profiles. This year, the database additionally launched a free IMDbPro membership plan and an option for members to self-identify their demographic information.