Netflix adds private recommendations through Facebook

Users can select certain friends to share their viewing habits, rather than showing everyone

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
September 2, 2014
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/38e9

When Netflix revealed its Facebook integration last year, in which anything that the user watched would automatically be posted to their wall, a lot of people were unhappy about it. Personally, I enjoy telling other people about the things I watch, just so I can show them how interesting and eclectic my tastes are. My girlfriend, who I share my account with, refused to turn the feature on for her profile, though.

In her words, "I don't need everyone having an opinion on what I watch."

Perhaps I was in the minority on this one, because Netflix has just added a new feature to its Facebook integration, allowing users to only show select, individual people what they just watched. 

Starting Tuesday, Netflix is launching a new social recommendations feature that will allow users to pick individual friends to share what they have recently watched.

After finishing a movie or TV show, each user will then see a row of the pictures of their friends. It will also include a box for adding an optional message.

The same box asking for a recommendation will also show up on the user's homescreen the next time they log in. 

Those friends must have a Netflix account; you cannot recommend what you watched to just anyone you are friends with on Facebook.  (Update: After using the feature, I see that you can recommend titles to any of your Facebook friends, even if they do not have Netflix). The people who were selected will receive the recommendation the next time they log into Netflix. They can send a message back, saying thank you for the recommendation. If they then watch the movie, or add it to their list, Netflix let inform the person who recommended it.

For those friends who have not yet connected Netflix and Facebook, Netflix says it will send over the recommendation as a private message on Facebook Messenger instead. 

"At Netflix, we believe that great stories have the power to connect us with the people we care about," Cameron Johnson, director of product innovation at Netflix, wrote in a post. "You know that feeling when you've watched something really great, something that moves you or makes you laugh, and you immediately think of someone else who would love it too? It’s the feeling of wanting your friends and family to enjoy the show just as much as you did."

Thankfully, my Netflix is still allowing me to share what I watched on my own wall, so this does not seem to be a total replacement for the "post everything to Facebook" feature, and just seems to simply be another option. I like that they are keeping the other feature; sure, it would be cool to be able to  make specific recommendations to people, but I also like being able to do the same for those people who don't even have Netflix.

Netflix's integration with Facebook was more than a year in the making as Netflix had been lobbying to update the 1988 VPPA, which came about when journalists got a hold of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork’s video rental history and published it. Congress responded by making it illegal for video providers to release the viewing records of their customers. Netflix announced in 2011 that it was planning to integrate with Facebook, but ran into roadblocks with the VPPA. In December 2012, Congress passed the updated law, which was signed into effect by President Obama last year. 

VatorNews has reached out to Netflix for further comment on the new feature, We will update if we learn more. 

(Image source: netflix.com)

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