Netflix’s lack of social features in the U.S. has been a glaring problem over the last few years. But today, the streaming-video company is taking the first steps towards fixing that.
Netflix will finally begin rolling out social sharing features via Facebook integration today, Bloomberg reports. Some international markets have already had access to Facebook integration, though that was an earlier version that didn’t allow them to choose what they shared.
We’ve known that the social sharing feature was coming since December, when the U.S. Senate and House passed a bill that would allow Netflix to share its users’ viewing habits. Netflix fought hard to to amend the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act, which was initially meant to protect customers’ video store rental history but had no specific rules for video rentals.
Once you opt-in to the feature, you’ll see two new rows on your Netflix homepage that show what your friends have been watching. You’ll also be able to comment and and post on your Facebook Timeline about films you’ve been watching, according to Bloomberg. International users will eventually get the new sharing feature as well.
“You are in control of what gets shared,” wrote Cameron Johnson, Netflix’s director of product innovation, in a blog post announcing the features today. “You can choose not to share a specific title by clicking the “Don’t Share This” button in the player. You can also visit your “Social Settings” in “Your Account” on Netflix.com to turn on additional sharing to Facebook or stop sharing altogether.”
Netflix dabbled in social early on with its Friends feature, which launched in 2004 but was killed in 2010. Netflix VP of product management Todd Yellin claimed fewer than 2 percent of Netflix users actually took advantage of the feature — which wasn’t a huge surprise, since it was a fairly half-assed implementation. It was tough to figure out who your friends actually were, and the interface was horrendous. In the end, Netflix chose to focus on its video service rather than continue struggling with its own social feature.
Below, you can catch a glimpse of the new social features:
Photo: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings via Ben Lucier/Flickr
VB's research team is studying web-personalization... Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.