Good news, U.S. Facebook users: Netflix announced today that it is now possible to share what you watch on the video streaming service with your Facebook friends. The new feature, dubbed Netflix Social, is sure to help you discover more great things to watch – at least, that’s the idea.
Once you’ve connected your Facebook profile to Netflix, Netflix Social adds two new rows to the user interface of whichever Netflix app you use, whether that’s Xbox 360, PS3, a smartphone or tablet app, or through the Web. The first row includes “Friends’ Favorites,” videos that received four or five star reviews from your friends. The second, “Watched by Your Friends,” simply shows you the videos most recently watched by the people you (presumably) know. In turn, Facebook friends who have also enabled Netflix Social can see the videos you rate highly or just watached.
To add a thin layer of privacy to this video history sharing feature, Netflix only shares the videos you watch with your Facebook friends on Netflix, by default. That is to say, the episode of “Mythbusters” you just watched won’t appear on your Facebook profile unless you turn on sharing to Facebook – a separate sharing option – but it will automatically appear in your friends’ Netflix accounts. If you do want to share to Facebook, but don’t want to share everything, Netflix provides a “Don’t Share This” button to keep your “guilty pleasures” hidden.
It might seem slightly odd that this feature is only just now arriving – after all, we’ve been able to share what we’re listening to on Spotify for ages. The cause of the delay was a pesky privacy law called the Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988, which forbade the disclosure of video “rental” histories, and Netflix streaming was roped into the mix. Enacted after a reporter revealed the (tame) video rental history of former Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, the VPPA was amended in December to allow users to automatically share what they watch on Netflix through social media accounts.
The amended VPPA still includes a few privacy protections. For instance, Netflix is legally required to provide “clear and conspicuous” ways for users to opt out of sharing their video history. Users’ opt-in status for Netflix Social will also expire after two years, at which point, users will have to reaffirm that they want to share what they’ve watched.
To see more about how Netflix Social works, check out the video below: