But that was then, and this is now.
The California streaming giant is set to crack down on password sharing – stressing that “a Netflix account is for people who live together in the same household”, with people who don’t live at the same address likely being soon demanding their own accounts – leading users to lament the end of an era and remember stories of loves, friendships and breakups made possible by shared passwords.
Sharing a Netflix password was “a step closer to ‘I do,'” a Twitter user lamented userwhile another Noted: “netflix has really gone from ‘love share your password’ to ‘we will block your access if you do not return to your parents across the country within 31 days.'”
The latest backlash began after Netflix inadvertently updated its Help Center page on Wednesday for some countries, saying users will need to connect to WiFi networks in their “primary location” at least once every 31 days. to ensure that their devices always have access to their account. . Devices not associated with the primary account location may be blocked from Netflix unless the account owner pays more to add an additional member.
Netflix is about to crack down on account sharing. What happens now?
The policy sparked outrage among global users, and Netflix stepped in to say the policy had yet to be implemented everywhere. “Yesterday, for a brief period, a help center article with information that only applies to Chile, Costa Rica and Peru was posted in other countries. We have posted it updated since,” Netflix spokesperson MoMo Zhou said. The company did not give a date when the change might apply to users in the United States or elsewhere. US and Canada share passwords, according to Netflix.
Nonetheless, the damage appears to be done, with Netflix users around the world arguing that the approach misunderstands what modern households – which often include couples or long-distance families with kids in college, as well as users individuals who travel for work or do not. t have a stable residence — are like.
“I’ve had Netflix for 13 years, I’m really going to cancel because of this. My sister and I share an account, does it really matter that we don’t live together? It’s still 2 people using it anyway. way. Terrible,” commented one person.
“This policy comes with an assumption: that there is a universal and commonly understood meaning of ‘household’ and that software can determine who is a member and who is not a member,” noticed another one.
Moving in with my boyfriend to thwart Netflix’s anti-password sharing program
— Jenna Danyew ❄️ (@Damnyew) February 2, 2023
Others, including gymnastics star Simone Biles, spoke of the inconvenience of having to re-login to Netflix every 31 days to confirm their primary location and credentials.
Late-night talk show hosts in the United States have made jokes about the decision, urging Netflix executives to change their minds. Others joked that they will have to write “Happy Monthly Netflix Log In Day”.
make a spreadsheet of all the devices I have @Netflix on and setting my calendar alert once a month to spend an hour logging into each of them Happy Monthly Netflix Log In Day 🤗
— Erin Biba (@erinbiba) February 2, 2023
Users also denounced the inconvenience for people who travel frequently for work – a particular concern amid the rise of remote working.
“As someone who is often away from home for long periods of time, ease of use was a big deal,” wrote one Reddit user, adding that he plans to cancel his account “and d use Netflix for three months a year, because in my specific situation, it’s too complicated.
Others worry about data privacy implications, with digital rights campaigner Evan Greer Tweeter: “Has anyone thoroughly researched the privacy and security implications of Netflix fingerprinting your home Wi-Fi network and creating a record of when you are home or not… just to suppress password sharing?”
Netflix knows that you are sharing your password. He’s testing a way to stop you.
The streaming giant has argued that “monetizing unpaid viewing” is key to its future. “Today’s widespread account sharing (more than 100 million households) undermines our long-term ability to invest in and improve Netflix, as well as grow our business,” a letter to investors said last month. .
Users, however, have accused Netflix of hypocrisy, pointing to previous messages from Netflix, which at times seemed to celebrate or wink at password sharing.
At the 2016 CES tech show, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the company “loved” people sharing Netflix accounts and described it as “a positive thing, not a negative thing.” according to CNET.
And in 2020, a Twitter user said his brother’s ex-partner had been “stealing our Netflix for two months” and naming his account “settings” to avoid discovery. “I’m not even crazy. I’m just really disappointed in myself for actually believing that an account named ‘settings’ would legitimately be Netflix settings,” the user said.
The official Netflix account simply replied: “Respect”.
In 2021, following a pandemic-related boom in demand for streaming services and amid a veritable explosion of new competing streaming services such as HBOmax, Netflix began testing ways to limit sharing. passwords between certain users.
The company acknowledged that it could face a flurry of initial rollbacks due to a crackdown on password sharing. However, citing some success in growing engagement in Latin America following the paid-sharing test it rolled out last year, the company said that “as borrowing households begin to activate their own standalone accounts and as additional member accounts are added, we expect to see improvement in overall revenue.
Netflix Adds 7.7 Million Subscribers, Exceeds Forecast; CEO Reed Hastings resigns
And, while the company had a rocky start to 2022, it added 7.7 million new subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2022, beating forecasts. Growth was largely driven by the success of content such as the TV series “Wednesday”, an Addams Family spin-off, and the royal documentary “Harry & Meghan”, both popular with global audiences. Netflix now has 231 million paying subscribers worldwide.
Rachel Lerman contributed to this report.