Netflix Cracks Down on Password Sharing


The first thing that comes to mind when talking about Netflix might be their hugely successful originals such as Stranger Things, You, and most recently their Addams Family sensation Wednesday. Some of their productions have secured nearly a dozen Oscar nominations, such as with the case of their film All Quiet on The Western Front. Along with the impressive selection, there is one feature that was beloved by many, and that was the ability to share a single account for multiple people to use. Friends and family could enjoy the streaming service under one account, saving money, and bringing them closer together as a result. However, Netflix’s Terms of Service have made updates regarding the ability to share accounts, putting the feature in jeopardy. The new change will have an effect on millions of users who share passwords with their peers, and may have an impact on the streaming service giant worldwide.


Netflix had been dominating the streaming service industry with its vast roster of film and television, outcompeting other platforms such as Hulu, and HBOMax. It was clear to them that password sharing wasn’t an issue to draw any concern towards. In 2016, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings even called the practice “a positive thing,” further making the company reputable by not charging users extra fees. But what has caused them to go back on these principles? Netflix had reported 231 million users in the fourth quarter of 2022, 41 percent of those users came from password sharing. The incentive for reducing that percentage, as said by the company in a fourth-quarter report, “Today’s widespread account sharing undermines our long term ability to invest in and improve Netflix, as well as build our business.” 


How will things change for subscribers? With this new system, there will be a fee to add extra members onto a single account, under one household. This means if you want to include a peer in your subscription plan but they are not within your household, you must pay the extra fee to have them included. While the new sharing system has not yet taken effect in some countries, including the United States, it is slowly, gradually taking effect around different parts of the world. Roughly a month ago, the update rolled out in Canada, New Zealand, and Spain.


“Love is sharing a password.” was a tweet made by Netflix’s official Twitter account, dating back to Nov. 10, 2017. Many users online went back to this on the social media platform, returning to the tweet when the new policies were announced, poking fun at it for its contradictory nature. The tweet itself remains on the platform, continuously getting ridiculed. Despite the backlash, the policies continue to be updated in favor of the new system. While not yet in effect in the US, there is little sign Netflix may reverse their future plans.