How Netflix Plans To Block Users From Sharing Accounts

Almost six years ago, on March 10, 2017, the Netflix Twitter account made a very simple claim: “Love is sharing a password.”

Apparently there is a lot of love going around. More than 100 million people use Netflix passwords from their friends, families, and sometimes even strangers, a number Netflix provided in its fourth-quarter letter to shareholders released on January 19, 2023. It even happens with celebrities — bestselling author and YouTube star John Green revealed on TikTok that he shares his Netflix account with a hacker named Omar.

But of course, sharing accounts is bad business for Netflix, and all good love stories must come to an end. Netflix made headlines last year when it announced it was testing new strategies to curb account sharing on its platform. The company announced in its fourth-quarter letter to shareholders that it plans to introduce new paid sharing features later in the fiscal quarter. Then they updated their FAQ section and the public took notice.

But what does this change mean for your Netflix account? Is this decision a cause for concern? Here’s what you need to know:

The biggest change to the platform is that Netflix is ​​redefining which users can share an account. As the first line of the updated Netflix FAQ states, “A Netflix account is for people who live together in a household.” The definition of “household” obviously changes depending on who you ask, but Netflix seems to have a definition based on proximity (more specifically, using “location-based information such as IP addresses and device IDs”, according to the new FAQ page). If you live in the same place, this counts as one household. With your device in the right place, everything should work as expected without any modifications.

Once you start rolling out multiple devices, Wi-Fi networks, and locations, the new rules come into play. According to the FAQ, if someone signs into Netflix from a device outside the home, they may be asked for verification. The account holder will receive an email or SMS with a code that needs to be entered on the device trying to log in – a slightly modified version of the usual two-factor authentication methods used by most major websites.

Much of the public outcry over the announced changes stems from information that has since been removed from the Netflix FAQ page – the original version of the new device sharing rules had much stricter restrictions. These rules required Netflix users to log into their account via their home network every 31 days to maintain access. Travelers could request a temporary code to grant them access to the site for seven days.

Netflix offers four subscription options in the US – Basic with Ads, Basic, Standard, and Premium. The biggest difference between the accounts is how many users can be logged in at the same time. Both the basic plans only allow one user to watch at a time, while the standard and premium plans allow two and four viewers respectively to watch at the same time. Regardless of your Netflix plan, you can have different profiles — that’s the avatar screen that appears when you first log into the site.

Last year, the company tested features for users in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru that allowed Standard and Premium users to add “sub-accounts” and transfer users from existing profiles to a new account. The sub-accounts from the Latin America tests worked so well that the functionality will be extended to additional countries with the new password-sharing rules to allow old borrowers to continue accessing their old profiles, as per Netflix’s third-quarter shareholder letter announced. However, this came at an additional cost. Adding a secondary location will cost a user around $3 depending on the country.

Netflix’s decision to crack down on password sharing will make it unique among streaming platforms like Hulu, HBO Max, and Disney+.

The moves mark a departure from just six years ago, when Netflix tweeted about love and sharing passwords. Love, it seems, could be more complex than sharing a password, and Netflix access will cost you.

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