The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has made changes to its rating system for Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid” after the new release became the latest target for “review bombing” — a practice in which a production is flooded with negative reviews by users who wield multiple accounts or employ bots to create new ones.
Since its release, “The Little Mermaid” has garnered 41,000 user ratings on IMDb. While the film has earned a positive 7.0 (weighted) average score, more than 39% of the ratings are 1 star, the lowest possible option.
IMDb has placed a notice on the film’s ratings page, writing that the site’s “rating mechanism has detected unusual voting activity on this title. To preserve the reliability of our rating system, an alternate weighting calculation has been applied.” This message has been employed before by IMDb in the cast of other atypical user score patterns.
While IMDb’s FAQ section doesn’t elaborate extensively on how the company calculates a weighted score, it states that “not all votes have the same impact (or ‘weight’) on the final rating. When unusual voting activity is detected, an alternate weighting calculation may be applied in order to preserve the reliability of our system.”
Representatives for IMDb were not immediately available for comment.
“The Little Mermaid” has been the target of racist criticism for several years now, dating back to when Halle Bailey, a Black actor, was first announced to be cast as Ariel.
Bailey told last year that her family banded together to support her when a #NotMyAriel hashtag gained traction online after footage of the film was unveiled. Bailey shared that her grandparents recounted their memories of confronting discrimination in their lifetimes.
Companies have attempted to combat “review bombing” several times before. Last year, IMDb owner Amazon introduced a 72-hour vetting period for user reviews of “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” which faced racist backlash for casting people of color as Middle-earth residents.