Netflix is preparing to launch social sharing features in its app for Facebook now that an update to the Video Privacy Protection Act is poised to become law. But after a year of sharing what they read on Facebook, will people be as keen to share what they watch?
The updated law , which eliminates the every-time consent required by the current video act, will let Netflix members share their viewing history with friends online once they have granted permission in the app. That means that every time you begin watching a movie on Netflix, an announcement of what you're watching will appear on your timeline.
The idea behind the automated sharing is to introduce movies to friends so that they'll watch, too. This so-called frictionless sharing ("frictionless" referring to a process that requires no work on the viewer's part) has worked well for music services such as Spotify , but not so well for news sites.
Earlier this month, both the Washington Post and The Guardian disabled its social readers in Facebook after the number of users dropped. Now Facebook users who click on a story link are sent to the source's website to read articles.
In response to the announcement on The Guardian's blog, a reader wrote: "The Guardian app was one reason I stopped using Facebook. It was extremely annoying to provide app permissions just to read something, and I detest having an app telling the world what I am reading, in an obscure manner."
Netflix may run into the same type of resistance. Do people really want their friends and family knowing not only when they're watching Netflix, but what they're watching as well? Read more: How to Stop Facebook's Frictionless Sharing
Spotify could provide a model solution. The app is one of the few Facebook media apps that allows users to activate a private mode that blocks sharing to Facebook. When Netflix began its lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill, a spokesperson told TechNewsDaily that the company had no plans for a private viewing mode. We've reached out to Netflix and asked if such a feature is under consideration but have not yet received a response.
The new bill does not require video services to include private mode, but it does add certain limits to automatic sharing. Viewers must renew their sharing option after 24 months of use, or sharing will stop. Further, Netflix will be required to include some type of mechanism to let users easily turn off sharing at any time.
The video bill has been sent to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it into law at the start of 2013.