After a lot of lobbying to get the law changed and an equal amount of political wrangling, Netflix has finally brought social sharing features to its streaming service in the U.S. But it’s far from perfect at this early stage of the game.
No Sharing Please, We’re American
In 1988 a law was passed which prevented the release of records pertaining to “prerecorded video cassette tapes or similar audio visual material.”
This was the Video Privacy Protection Act, which came about as a result of a newspaper disclosing the rental records of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork. The problem is that the while this law was good for consumers in 1988, the world has changed since then.
The emergence of streaming services alongside social networks means that people are now willingly sharing their data in order to be part of the ecosystem. Hence when Netflix launched Facebook integration in 2011, it was switched on in every country other than the U.S.
Sharing Arrives, Shamefully Late
Facebook integration and social sharing options have now arrived on Netflix in the U.S. after Congress changed the law to give Netflix and others the legal right to roll out such features.
The law now states that people can give their consent for the viewing habits to be shared publicly, and many people are happy to do just that if it means they get recommendations from friends.
Shared Accounts Shame Netflix
Netflix wasted no time in rolling out the sharing options to its U.S. customers. However, some were quick to notice an obvious flaw in the system related to the fact that most Netflix accounts are shared by more than one person.
This, as discussed by Sarah Perez at TechCrunch, means that the data will throw up all sorts of different content, including that viewed by your children. Which rather limits its appeal and usefulness.
The answer is to introduce personal profiles so that each individual member of a household can have their own dedicated portion of a Netflix account. If the rumor mill is anything to go by then expect to see this happen sooner rather than later.
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