Netflix causes disruption with new restrictions on account sharing


Image from PC Magazine

Justine Bagasbas and Sierra Harris

Streaming service Netflix plans to implement new limitations on account and password sharing within the first quarter of 2023. The new guidelines will allow members to set their primary household location and only those within range will have access to a shared account. In previous testing, Netflix uses information such as IP addresses, device IDs and their account activity to identify persistent sharing outside of a household. Netflix representatives have explained their rationale for the unexpected updates; to allow members greater control over their accounts. Additionally, they expressed concern with investment abilities. As of February 2023, over 40% of the company’s 231 million paid memberships were sharing account passwords. By restricting account sharing across households, Netflix will experience drastic increases in profit. 

“My parents pay for our current plan but I would probably just create my own subscription once the rules change,” said senior Sydney Rorke. 

The news of Netflix’s new policies dominated social apps like Instagram and Twitter’s trending, as many users openly criticized Netflix’s decision to crack down on password sharing. 

“I’m genuinely considering canceling my subscription,” said journalist Erin Biba. 

In March 2023, Netflix began testing their new model, attempting to find a compromise following criticism of the new limitations. This will allow users to share account passwords, but for a small price per reported “sub account” for up to two additional users. Netflix’s new rules on account sharing could have a large impact on families living in separate households, friends, and college students living outside of the primary household location. 

“The rules don’t really impact me as much as they impact the people on my account,” said senior Amelia Hobart. “I understand why the company is doing it, we’re really cheating the system here.” 

Hobart shares her account with her cousins located in Pennsylvania and understands that she will be able to use her account while they likely won’t once the new rules are implemented. 

Subscribers of Netflix have expressed their annoyance and frustration with the new account-sharing policies as many have stated that the attractive part of Netflix is the ability to share accounts, especially with families that didn’t live together.  

“My sister who is on the current account lives 40 minutes away and I plan on going to college out of range of my household,” said Rorke.  

NBC has interviewed multiple college students to get their perspectives and understanding of the impact on the different affected demographics.

“It just adds extra hassle and annoyance to something that in the end is kind of expendable with the amount of streaming services out there,” said Aravind Kalathil, senior at the University of Missouri-Columbia. 

Other popular platforms such as Hulu, HBO Max, and Disney Plus have not taken action directly against the sharing of passwords nor have they announced plans to do so. This may cause standing users to switch over to another service.    

Many people on Twitter have poked fun at Netflix and its hypocrisy as an old tweet from 2017 recently resurfaced stating, “Love is sharing a password.”