We knew it was coming, but Netflix has finally announced that its US customers will be able to share their viewing habits with the social networking masses starting from today, though it will become available to all US streaming subscribers by the end of this week.
It was back in December last year when it was revealed that Netflix would be launching social-sharing in US some time this year, after the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) update was signed. While Spotify-users and the likes have long-been able to share audio tastes, the signing of the new Act by President Obama meant that video services such as Netflix would also be able to share customer activity on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. If a user opts in, of course.
While social sharing has already been available to international Netflix users, prior to the Video Privacy Protection Act update, it was illegal to do so Stateside. Why? Because the law as it stood requires a customer’s consent for their information to be shared anywhere. It was first introduced in 1988 and signed by then-President Reagan. It’s intent was to prevent the “wrongful disclosure of video tape rental or sale records [or other similar audieo visual materials, to cover items such as video games and the future DVD format].”
The change to the VPPA had been Netflix’s “top lobbying priority in Washington,” reported The Hill last summer. Indeed, Netflix seemingly spent more than $1,000,000 lobbying in 2011 and 2012 for this change to take place, and Netflix has in fact set up its own Political Action Committee (PAC).
Users will see “Friends’ Favorites” and “Watched by Your Friends” rows on their Netflix homepage, if they choose to access the new feature. By default, members share what they watched only on Netflix, but they can also share to Facebook by changing their Netflix “Social Settings” on Netflix.com.
“There are few better ways to find a movie or TV series you’ll love than hearing about it from your friends,” says Tom Willerer , vice president of product innovation at Netflix. “Facebook already makes it easy for our international members to connect with friends over TV shows and movies and we’re thrilled to now bring this experience to our U.S. members.”
So, this news will likely be met with a mixture of delight and despair – your Facebook stream may now be overwhelmed with Breaking Bad and House of Cards shares.
Meanwhile, check out the official Netflix demo video below, outlining the new social features.
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