What the Heck Is Netflix's Plan to Stop Password Sharing?

Netflix's plan to eliminate password sharing is backfiring already
'Don't Look Up'Credit: Netflix
The Netflix password-sharing crackdown might be coming for you...

Yesterday, the internet was in a tizzy when Netflix (perhaps inadvertently) released some details about its long-gestating plan to prevent password sharing.

Based on information from Netflix's Help Center earlier this week, the original plan was to require passwords to be shared within households only. To ensure this, every device you're logged into must connect to the Wi-Fi at a designated "primary location" and watch something at least once every 31 days.

According to Yahoo! Finance, Netflix planned to use "IP addresses, device IDs, and account activity" to determine who was at the primary location.

What if you're not at that primary location? Blocked! You can get a code to watch for seven days, but it's not clear if the device will be blocked from the account permanently after those seven days.

However, today, Netflix is walking back some of these policy changes. Apparently, this information was part of a Help Center update that has now been removed, per The Streamable.

“For a brief time yesterday, a help center article containing information that is only applicable to Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru, went live in other countries,” a spokesperson told The Streamable. “We have since updated it.”

Hmm. Maybe this is because the social media blowback to Netflix's crackdown was swift, angry, and widespread. For example:

@milehighbrendan Yeah, no, @netflix. Nope. Definitely not. Not even a little bit. #netflix #fail #netflixfail #netflixpasswordsharing ♬ original sound - Mile High Brendan

The basic problem here is not only trying to charge users for something they've been using one way for years but also the timing and general ennui with how difficult and expensive life already is. As this TikToker points out, the minute Netflix starts asking users to start jumping through complicated hoops, it will likely lose a significant portion of its user base.

Additionally, Netflix seems to have rolled out this update without considering or clarifying several factors.

What about soldiers deployed overseas for significant periods?

What about young students temporarily away from their family's primary location?

What about individuals who rely on a rotation of libraries or schools for their internet?

What about people who are hospitalized or in treatment facilities?

In each case, will users be forced to get a new account?

One person on TikTok claims this is exactly what Netflix told them to do. A customer service rep told a user, "Netflix defines a household as people who live together in the same location. Whoever doesn't live with you will need to create a separate account."

@beadsook Replying to @jamesdonnelly1992 #greenscreen great work @netflix ♬ Mii Music but It Makes You Uncomfortable - lukeitslukas

Honestly, the idea of having to physically take a device from any of these potential connection points back to a primary location feels like a lot of trouble, and many on social media are echoing that sentiment.

Many are also pointing out that Netflix might be overvaluing itself in an environment filled with other streaming options—they are not the only player anymore.

Whether Netflix was testing these choppy waters by leaking the policy or it truly was an error, the company should have a pretty good idea of how poorly this proposed change might go. (For what it's worth, the fact that U.S. customer service reps were trained and prepared to answer these questions this week suggests the rollout was not, as Netflix claims, a mistake.)

But let us know how you feel about it in the comments.     

Your Comment


It kind of sounds like people just want to abuse the Netflix subscription and share it to everyone for free. If your kid goes to college, no they shouldn't be able to use your Netflix account if they aren't even in the same household, that's totally reasonable. The entitlement people seem to get from having an account is ridiculous. I think the 30 day home WIFI thing is actually a pretty good idea. Subscription based software like Adobe doesn't allow password sharing, how is that any different?

February 3, 2023 at 8:13AM, Edited February 3, 8:15AM

Stephen Herron

Well, considering the fact that the Netflix account I use is my own and I routinely travel for 6 to 8 weeks at a time, this is a guaranteed deal breaker for me and will most certainly result in me canceling my account.

February 3, 2023 at 3:34PM


I think your case is ok since you travel and only that device is using Netflix.

February 4, 2023 at 4:02AM


Well, people expect it because they made it that way. Their pricing structure was based on it.

Will be very interesting to see if they make more or less money because of this.

February 5, 2023 at 6:24PM