Netflix has always discouraged its subscribers from sharing their account password with friends and family members. However, the streaming giant has mostly turned a blind eye to the practice. That could be changing, according to a new test first spotted by The Streamable.
Users who don’t pay for their own subscription may soon find themselves out of luck the next time they go to log in.
At the same time, some hypothesize that Netflix’s latest move is less about stopping people from sharing accounts and more about security. Although that would be nice if it were true, it’s not likely.
Technically speaking, sharing your Netflix password with a friend and letting them watch shows on your account isn’t illegal. It’s certainly a better option than pirating the content from elsewhere. However, the practice does violate Netflix’s terms of service.
It’s understandable why the streaming service doesn’t want people sharing passwords. When this occurs, it loses out on extra monthly subscription fees from the “leech” users.
As the streaming industry continues to get more competitive with new services arriving all the time, Netflix is trying to keep its user numbers high.
According to The Streamable, Netflix is now prompting users to sign up for their own account if it detects that they’re not in the same household as the main account holder. The prompt reads, “If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching.
From there, the user is prompted to input a verification code that’s sent to the primary account holder’s email address or phone number. Of course, those who currently share accounts probably already see the loophole here. The main account holder can simply pass along the verification code and the other user can bypass the warning.
Still, it’s an inconvenient step. Most people who share streaming accounts don’t live together and may not be on the same schedule. Having to text a verification code back and forth would get old quickly. That being said, it doesn’t appear that Netflix is being too pushy. Some users claim that hitting the “verify later” button gets rid of the prompt permanently.
As mentioned, some people believe that Netflix’s latest test is geared towards security rather than account sharing. It could, for instance, be used to deter hackers from using an account after stealing the password or buying it on the dark web (yes, that really happens).
In a statement to CNBC, a company spokesperson said, “This test is designed to ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so.” That doesn’t necessarily clear the air since it could be interpreted in a variety of ways.
Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how Netflix handles future account sharing. It would be shocking for the streaming giant to start taking direct action against account owners that share their password. However, it is certainly a possibility.