Netflix Social Goes Live in the U.S.

Netflix finally has its Facebook integration in the United States. Just a few weeks after the last legal obstacle was eliminated, the subscription video-on-demand service has launched Netflix Social, the app that will allow users to share their viewing histories with their Facebook friends. The app–as I understand it from the launch video–allows two levels of sharing, one that will appear on your Netflix interface and another that will allow you to post your viewing history directly onto Facebook. While users don’t have to use the integration, if you opt in, the default sharing takes place only on Netflix, and you have to check an additional box to share your viewing history on Facebook. Users can opt not to share a specific title by clicking a box as the episode is starting or later by removing it from their social viewing history.

Once you integrate, Netflix will create two new rows to your interface. The first is called “friends’ favorites” and lists all videos that your friends have rated four stars or higher. The second, “Watched by Your Friends,” allows you to scroll through your lists of friends to see everything they’ve watched (or at least everything they’ll admit to watching). As far as I can tell from the video, the system only allows you to connect one Facebook account per Netflix account, which means I likely won’t be using Netflix Social, in part because it will be too burdensome for me to differentiate what I watch from what others in my family watch, although I’d imagine that Netflix will eventually focus on that issue.

I still wonder how widely this feature will be used, though. Many years ago, I mentioned or discussed “Nefflix Friends,” a sharing tool that I actually had used. The tool allowed you to view others’ queues and ratings for movies and TV shows. At the time, I was single and my viewing profile probably reflected my tastes more successfully. I was also somewhat less concerned about privacy and felt little need to worry about others seeing what I’d watched. Now, I’m a little less enthusiastic. When we see the video demo, it’s a little creepy to see someone looking into a friend’s queue to find that she has “been watching a lot of TED talks.”

I’ve obviously been thinking about these issues for a while, as my recent SCMS talk demonstrates, but it will be fascinating to get a sense of how people integrate this feature into their viewing practices, if they do so at all.

Update: Forgot to include an embed of the video announcing the launch:

 

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