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Netflix wants to stop you from using your ex’s account, but it doesn’t know how to

The world’s most popular video streaming service gained 37 million new subscribers due to the global pandemic-induced lockdowns, which lead to the company seeing almost $2.8 billion in profit, according to Netflix’s latest earning report. That’s a lot of dough, and the company isn’t ready to thank who brought it either, as it is now clamping down on password sharing. Here’s what you need to know.

Earlier on in March 2021, some users received the message “If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching.” To which those users were asked to verify their account through two-factor authentication via a code being sent to the ‘official’ account holder’s phone or email. Basically, if you were still logged on to and using your ex’s Netflix account, your sweet free streaming may have come to an abrupt halt. That being said, it may not all be that bad, because the company has all of us to lose in the long term if it strictly regulates its users. We’ve had enough of being told no over the past year, wouldn’t you say?

The research firm Magid stated that a third of subscribers in the US alone have admitted to sharing their passwords, which could be costing the streaming service as much as $25 billion a year, which makes their mere $2.8 billion profit look a little small… sorry Netflix.

The company does however promote itself as a consumer friendly brand, and although the terms of service clearly state that passwords “may not be shared with individuals beyond your household,” we still do it. The threat of a password crunch down was contradictory to what Netflix’s CEO, Reed Hastings, said at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) back in 2016: that consumers sharing Netflix account information was “a positive thing.” Later, according to Quartz, he stated that it was something Netflix just had to “learn to live with.”

Obviously, like any subscription service, Netflix wants users to pay for the service that they use, and that is only fair. Even if people are ‘borrowing’ passwords, and effectively not paying, it does still combat the issue of illegal streaming or downloading movies from Torrent websites. Although these sites are very much being used by a lot of people, imagine how many more would use them if the sharing of Netflix passwords were truly clamped down on.

As lockdowns are beginning to lift all over the world, in some places quicker than others, people are likely going to be spending more of their time outdoors and not in front of their televisions, which doesn’t favour Netflix’s subscriber count. It may be the reason that Netflix created the test of threatening two-factor authentication in the first place, because ‘quietly’ discouraging users from sharing their passwords could be a way to, as Quartz puts it, “squeeze some extra revenue out of existing freeloaders without doing much damage to the brand.”

Most of the time, users who freely use their friend or family’s accounts will become paying customers themselves at some point. We see this as kids leave home and receive a salary of their own—having a Netflix account that is separate from their parents is almost a right of passage into independence. Also, if you share passwords with your current flatmates, and then move flat, you’ll find that they might start up a new account after you leave because they have become accustomed to having access to endless things to watch. A word of caution though, let’s discuss safety.

Password sharing and safety

Jack Moore, a cybersecurity specialist at ESET spoke to TechRadar on the matter of password sharing and safety (that go beyond the obvious safety perceptions). He commented that “If I were to ask people if they share their email account password with anyone else, the vast majority would probably say ‘absolutely no chance!’… but when it comes to media services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Spotify, such password sharing is actually quite common. It may sound innocent, but when people are using the same password for their media service that they use for other accounts, it starts to become dangerous, and the risk of account compromises increases.”

Moore advises what we all know but might not necessarily put into practice: “regularly change your passwords in order to flush out anyone who has gained access over the last year who shouldn’t have. Creating complex passwords, combined with a password manager, will reduce your risk of compromise.” Let’s not forget that the web of gossip goes far beyond trusty circles of friends, with passwords or otherwise, because online, if your best friend who mooches your Netflix account gets hacked, it simply means the hacker has your password too.

Silver linings

There is no talk of a guarantee that Netflix will implement this two factor authentication hurdle world wide, or anywhere, but as Magid wrote, “a system that introduces two-factor lets you continue sharing, as long as you don’t mind passing along the occasional code. It’s a little inconvenience for a lot more peace of mind.”

The 10 best movies to watch on Netflix right now

10 best movies on Netflix right now

This year, a whole summer of festivals (and many other things) got cancelled. What can you do to kill time? Why not enjoy a summer of great movies instead? Just for you, we have compiled 10 of the best movies we’ve watched on Netflix recently. The digital platform has been especially busy this month, adding close to 100 new movies in August alone. However, Netflix also takes down about 50 movies on the first of each month, so make sure you put that subscription to good use and get watching!

Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013)

First off, here are the ones not to miss with an end of month countdown. If you still haven’t got around to watching Blue Is the Warmest Colour, you’ve got until the 25 August. The movie was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and with nothing quite like it ever produced before the screenplay turned quite a few heads. This film marks a change of era, it is a modern classic. You’re welcome!

Lady Bird (2017)

Lady Bird is another must-watch on our list. This one has been shown for a while, but it’s a film that will be spoken about for years to come—whoever you are, Saoirse Ronan’s character in Lady Bird will speak to you. If you’re still not convinced, should we mention that Timothée Chalamet is the main love interest?

Da 5 Bloods (2020)

Da 5 Bloods follows four African American Vietnam vets who return to Vietnam years after the war to search for the remains of their fallen squad leader, along with some buried treasure. It’s an adventure story where future and past are coherently lived by the main characters, real footage from the war is shown throughout too, which allows for a heartbreaking insight on what war brings.

The Irishman (2019)

If you like a mafia drama with an A-List cast, then The Irishman will not disappoint. Starring Robert de Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, this 3 hours and a half long movie is definitely worth it. Just prepare your snacks beforehand!

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Million Dollar Baby is one of those films that make you feel invincible and want to run for your dreams with all guns blazing. It takes your emotions for a heck of a ride. If you’re lacking motivation or self-doubt is creeping along your peripherals, trust us and watch this.

Unbroken (2014)

Unbroken is Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut and we are obsessed with it. The outstanding performances come close to none, based in WW2, Olympian Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) fights for his sanity and life in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. Nice one, Jolie.

Love Wedding Repeat (2020)

To lighten up the mood or when you feel like an easy watch without much concentration to spend, Love Wedding Repeat is the one to go for. It’s all drama and laughter for this one and who can say no to that?

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is the British historical drama for the romantics out there. Set on Guernsey Island, it is beautiful enough to make us all want to escape to an internetless town and fall in love.

Project Power (2020)

Project Power is the latest action film with a sci-fi twist that everyone is talking about. Starring Jamie Foxx, it ticks all the boxes for an edge-of-a-seat watch.

Roma (2018)

To end on a ‘true cinema’ note, last but not least is Roma, one of the most cinematographically satisfying watches available on Netflix. Shot in black and white, the movie is a stunning piece of work that will make anyone want to go to film school. A slither of modern cinema, the list that keeps growing! Enjoy.