This last summer, before Netflix announced its price hike and earned the ire of customers everywhere as well as making that giant and short-lived misstep called Qwikster, it was making headlines for something else entirely. The video streaming service was speculated to be working on a deep integration with Facebook, which would introduce a whole new level of content sharing, and possibly the media dashboard the social site was rumored to be creating.
However there were some major strings attached, namely in the form of U.S. federal regulations that prevent a company from making its users’ viewing habits public information without exclusive written permission. Because of the Video Privacy Protection Act, Netflix announced in July it would be forced to offer its new Facebook element only to Canadian and South American customers.
But Netflix also said that a new bill, HR2471, would give a go-ahead for Facebook integration if it passed. As long as Netflix users were given the option to opt-out of the social networking features, the service would finally be introduced stateside.
And now the House of Representatives has passed the bill, updating the Video Privacy Protection Act so that it better reflects our changing digital media times (the regulations were originally written to protect consumers’ video store rental histories). The bill has yet to be approved by the U.S. Senate.
If Netflix begins to offer social media integration to U.S. users (which we have to believe it will), customers will have the option to give a one-time consent for Netflix to release their video streaming history to social platforms.
Facebook has been rumored to be preparing a multimedia hub for awhile now, and while it has made a significant push to incorporate music services, there isn’t a real video presence on the site. But if the rumors of a deep Facebook-Netflix partnership are true (CEO Reid Hastings is a recent addition to the Facebook board), then consider the stage set for a launch. The fact the the Open Graph should be just around the corner seems to make the timing even better for Netflix: everyone’s eager to get a piece of the new Facebook platform, which gives them unprecedented user access through the new “verb” application format.