Netflix Is Cracking Down On Shared Logins. Dammit.

by Julie Scagell

People are not happy about this possible Netflix addition

Netflix, the streaming giant with more than 200 million subscribers around the world, is putting its proverbial foot down in an attempt to discourage password sharing.

The new feature, first spotted by Gammaware, is currently being tested as a way to stop unauthorized account login usage. Obviously, they didn’t think about all the time and energy some of us went through to create and manage password sharing with loved ones across multiple streaming services so we could binge watch All Of The Shows during this pandemic.

When the company feels there is a shady login happening, they will respond with a message saying, “If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching.” That’s not so bad. A little slap on the wrist and a wink. But then, if the person doesn’t click on the “Join Free for 30 Days,” they have to “prove” they are authorized to use the account. This is done by requesting a verification code, which has to be emailed or texted and — you guessed it — match the owner’s account details.

A third “Verify Later” option will allow a person to access the Netflix library, but the text/email prompt will happen again so it’s only a way to buy a little more time.

“This test is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so,” a Netflix spokesperson told The Verge, which isn’t entirely true because some of us have authorized another person to access our account. I am talking about my own mother who is so enthralled with British crime series that I wouldn’t blink if I woke up tomorrow and she’s sporting a billy club and custodian helmet.

Basically, if someone isn’t able to verify that they own the account within a certain timeframe, they will be asked to create their own account or their days of bingeing Outlander are over. Arguably, if you are an untrustworthy person (cough), the actual account owner could send their Netflix buddy the code as it comes through via text or email for them to input. I shudder to invite any more text messages from my mom at this point but if this goes into production my days are numbered.

One out Netflix subscribers might have is asking the company what constitutes a household account. Netflix’s terms of service state that streaming content on the platform is “for your personal and non-commercial use only and may not be shared with individuals beyond your household.” But not all family members live with us. If someone has a kid in college (or a broke friend who feels like family), it could be argued that the password is still being shared within the family.

“Password sharing is something you have to learn to live with,” co-CEO Reed Hastings said in 2016.. “There’s so much legitimate password sharing, like you sharing with your spouse, with your kids, so there’s no bright line, and we’re doing fine as is.”

Reed has spoken. No take-backsies.