It’s a fact of life: Netflix passwords get shared. At this point, I’m pretty sure half of New York City has borrowed my Netflix password at one point or another, and so far, the streaming service has been relatively calm about password sharing. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has even gone on the record multiple times to say sharing a login is “a positive thing.”
Now it seems the company is considering tightening the reins a little. As first reported by The Streamable, some Netflix users began to see a prompt telling them to get their accounts.
“If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your account to keep watching,” reads the message. It then asks users to either sign up for a trial or verify their identity with an email or text.
If you’re tight with the actual account owner, you could have that person send you that verification code, but you might be in trouble if you’re still using your ex-roommate’s password they gave you five years ago. It’s also not clear how Netflix is defining a household. It could theoretically use IP addresses, but that won’t cover the wealth of devices people tend to watch Netflix on (that said, the test appears to be limited to TV devices for now).
O no. Netflix doing the purge?!? pic.twitter.com/XXlHtfgfsy
— chante most (@DOP3Sweet) March 9, 2021
For its part, Netflix isn’t specifying how permanent the feature will be. A spokesperson told The Streamable, “This test is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so.” That could be framed as a security measure against, say, stolen passwords, but the way the prompt is phrased clarifies the primary intent to limit password sharing.
It seemed like such a move was inevitable. While this test doesn’t mean Netflix will implement the crackdown widely any time soon, there’s a massive amount of Netflix viewers who don’t pay for the service. Research suggests as much as a third of Netflix users share their account information with someone outside their household, it’s hard to imagine Netflix will allow all that potential money to go untapped for long.