Today, Netflix presented at the F8 conference to talk about their planned integration with Facebook. You can see what you friends are watching and they can see what you are watching on Facebook. Not only on a granular level, but Facebook will present what it finds to be interesting trends among your friends’ viewing habits. Mark Zukerberg’s example showed that four of his friends just watched movies staring Johnny Depp. Netflix will be integrating with both Facebook’s newly announced Timeline as well as their OpenGraph platform. Facebook will have similar integration with Hulu.
Netflix’s expectation is that this new form of social media discovery will double their subscribers. Well, that’s at least what Mark Zuckerberg laid out there as the potential for Netflix (according to Reed Hastings).
The “sad” part of the story is that this functionality will not be available to Netflix customers in the United States. Apparently, the other 44 countries with Netflix will have access within several weeks.
Sometime ago, Netflix stated they would be holding off on Facebook integration for US customers because of a 1988 law, the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA). Calling upon Congress to change the law first, Netflix said they would move ahead with Facebook integration in other countries. Netflix asked its customers today to email their Congressional representative to help pass the bill via their blog.
Reed Hastings stated the law was in the US Congress but what’s the likelihood that it will pass? Well, in July the bill was introduced to Congress by Representative Robert Goodlatte from Virginia and it was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. The bill was taken up by the Judiciary’s subcommittee on Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. The bill is not on the sub-committee calendar at the moment. The committee doesn’t publish upcoming hearings more than a week in advance and after today there’s nothing currently scheduled. The Committee would not comment to Tech of the Hub on when the bill will be considered. For the bill to pass, it needs to be referred out of the subcommittee with a recommendation, voted on by the House and then the Senate and ultimately signed by the President. So, even if it appeared on the sub-committee’s calendar tomorrow, it would likely take several weeks to get through the legislative process. The bill has been slowly but surely been gaining co-sponsors over the last few weeks. Of the 12 Democratic and Republican co-sponsors, 6 are from California where Netflix is headquartered. While the bi-partisan list of co-sponsors is a good sign, the fact that it has been sitting in committee since July makes one wonder if it will pass or not. Can Washington at least come together on social media integration?
Netflix started laying the groundwork for this integration sometime ago. Last January, Netflix updated their terms and conditions to allow for the functionality. Netflix’s terms and conditions for customers are here.
From the language in the agreement, you need to explicitly link your Netflix and Facebook accounts. If you do, here’s a run down of the features based on the terms & conditions:
- The shows you watch will be displayed for your Facebook friends
- Your ratings for shows will be displayed on Facebook
- The fact that you are a Netflix member will be shown on Facebook
- The posting of this data will automatically happen
- If Grandma also uses your account, the shows she watches will also post to your Facebook account! One Netflix account = One Facebook account
- Your Netflix recommendations will be influenced from Facebook data
- Who can see your Netflix doings will rely on your Facebook privacy settings
With Netflix splitting into two companies, is the streaming business still subject to the VPPA? Perhaps it was one of the impetuses to break the company in two. Click through to read the Netflix terms & conditions that cover social media integration. Stay tuned.
• Social Media
Please note that only one Facebook account can be connected to each Netflix account. All Netflix account activity will be posted automatically to the Facebook account that is connected to Netflix. If you have authorized more than one member of your household to use your Netflix account, it is possible that their Netflix activity may be posted to your Facebook account or be visible to your Facebook friends using the Netflix service.
While we hope that you find the Facebook Connect feature to be a great way to share information, including discovering new movies & TV shows, you may nonetheless disconnect your accounts at any time by clicking on the “Your Account” link, selecting the “Manage Facebook Connect” link (located in the Preferences section) and then selecting “Disconnect.” Facebook may also offer ways to manage the information you share with Netflix. See the Facebook website for details.