Netflix is removing one of the most memorable things about the app, a shared space to watch. As of 2023, the company has decided to do away with users’ ability to share passwords with other families. Households will still be able to watch under the same account, but no person who lives outside of the location of that house can be on the account. There is device verification in place if you are not in your current place of residence, and your account holder will have to re-sign into the account every 31 days.
As of now, a “sub-account,” a profile that can be added to the holder’s account to customize your watching, will cost up to three dollars per month. This has raised several concerns: this strategy doesn’t consider the variations of “modern households” like kids in college, long-distance relationships, or children of divorce having to move from household to household. Many ask themselves why they are even paying for an extra subscription; it seems more of a hassle to continue their Netflix subscription than to keep it.
In 2017 Netflix tweeted, “Love is sharing a password.” Users have brought up this tweet amongst the controversy, explicitly pointing out the hypocrisy of this statement in relation to their new password policy.
Yes, safety risks are involved in sharing passwords, but that doesn’t seem to be the main reason the company decided to make this decision. Netflix’s viewership has declined significantly over the past few years. The financial struggle of the company has prompted their new rule, and the financial struggle has also been tied to the rising subscriptions of other streaming services such as HBO Max and Disney+. Netflix’s intention was supposed to increase subscribers; however, the consensus among viewers is contrary to Netflix’s goal. The general population who has invested its money in Netflix and has paid monthly subscription fees is sure that the company’s password-sharing policy is derived from corporate greed. The younger generation is having equally as hard a time.
Most teens are saddened to hear that password sharing will not be available to consider. This news is shocking for high schoolers relying on a friend’s password. Students have stated that they will “use pirated websites to watch content,” because they will no longer have access to a Netflix account. Teens who move from house to house will have to pay a premium, and college students or soon-to-be students will not have access to their parent’s accounts as long as they are far from home.
The sub-account adds money to the primary holder’s account, so the college students will have to pay an extra amount to rejoin the “household” account. Asking a friend what they thought about this new plan, they said that they think it is “narrow-minded and unfair.” Others think that it is wholly based on the “greed for money of the company and seeing other businesses like Netflix grow larger while Netflix loses subscribers.” Some students genuinely believe this is a good step in protecting the safety of one's digital presence. However, even they are skeptical of how Netflix portrays a “typical household.” Many are wondering what made the company change its view entirely.
In early February, Netflix claimed that the plans for password security would not apply to the U.S. They also released a statement stating that the plans “were an error.” This came conveniently after the backlash on the plans for password sharing and the threat of losing many subscribers. Although, many are sure that this plan will be carried out in due time.