Soon you'll be able to share your Netflix history on Facebook
An amendment to the Video Privacy Protection Act will make it simpler to share your video viewing history with your social media friends - but some of us may not want to do that
Now that we’ve avoided going over that fiscal cliff (for a while, at least), the geniuses down in Washington have been able to focus their ample brainpower on the real important things affecting our country - like making it easier for you to let all of your Facebook friends know what you’ve been watching on Netflix.
Last Thursday President Obama signed into law an amendment to the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA). That law, as originally written, made it illegal to share video rental history without the consumer providing consent on a video-by-video basis. It was crafted in response to the release of the videotape rental history of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork while his nomination hearings were being held. Heaven forbid we know that potential Supreme Court members rented (and presumably enjoyed) Ruthless People.
The amendment signed last week, known informally as the “Netflix amendment,” will soon allow you to tell Netflix and other such services that it’s OK to automatically share your viewing history on sites like Facebook, much as you currently can do with songs you listen to on Spotify and images you take with Instagram. Expect such functionality from Netflix sometime in the near future.
Is this a good thing? I say, as long as it’s clearly optional, and easy to opt into or out of, why not? Given all the other information about their personal lives that people choose to share these days, why not make it easy for them to share with the world whatever movies or TV shows they choose to fire up on Netflix, or Amazon Prime or iTunes or Hulu, for that matter, in the privacy of their living rooms, bedrooms or bathrooms? That’s right, we all suspect you like to catch up on 30 Rock on the potty - now we can make it official and stop the denials.
But will I, personally, as a Netflix streaming customer, choose to share such information with my Facebook buddies? The answer is most definitely no and the reason is because I have a wife and two daughters and we all share one Netflix streaming account. That means, should I choose today to automatically share my Netflix viewing history on Facebook, my friends would think that I recently streamed the following:
High School Musical 2
Hannah Montana: Season 4: Episode 9: Love That Lets Go
The Suite Life on Deck: Season 1: Episode 21: Double-Crossed
Taylor Swift: Journey to Fearless: Part 1
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never
You see my problem here? Of course, it was my daughters who watched these, not me (no, seriously). But that distinction won’t matter much to my college buddies when they see it on my Facebook wall. I simply can’t have that.
So, I will not be enabling that feature whenever Netflix and Facebook make it available. However, given that Netflix is also working on the ability to have separate user profiles - including separate streaming queues and (presumably) viewing histories - I may be able to safely share such information in the future without fear of losing my man card. Although, I may still want to rethink that choice if/when Titanic becomes available for streaming on Netflix. I just can’t quit that movie.
Will you be sharing your Netflix viewing history on Facebook? If not, why not? Let us know your thoughts on this most important issue.