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They're Onto Us: Netflix Could Start Cracking Down on Password Sharing Soon

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You know that Netflix account you share with your college friends, workmates, and extended family? Well, you might have to break the news to them soon that they’ll have to get their own accounts.

The streaming giant, which allows a maximum of four devices to stream at once, is testing a new feature that aims to put an end to Netflix account piracy, otherwise known as unchecked password sharing.

A few Netflix users have already been selected for the “test” wherein Netflix displays a screen that says, “If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching.” Users can then confirm they live with the owner of the account by verifying their identity with a texted or e-mailed code to the owner’s phone. Or they can select “verify later,” and enjoy the unspecified amount of time they have left with Netflix.

The feature is being rolled out for a limited amount of time to see if it will curb password piracy, a growing trend that lets users access Netflix either for free or at a fraction of the price. It could occur from an act as simple as forgetting to log out of your account on a friend’s TV or from purposely selling pirated passwords online.

Streamers like Netflix have been faced with the password sharing conundrum for years, and in 2016, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings called it something “you have to learn to live with.” But it looks like Netflix is taking a new approach to the issue to maintain its momentous growth in viewers—and revenues.

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Historically, Netflix has never been worried about password sharing as it never impeded the streamer’s growth. But as more and more competitors enter the scene, like Disney+ and HBO Max, this new move is unsurprising for a company seeking to stay ahead of the game.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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