Netflix this morning launched its long-awaited “Netflix Social” feature, letting its customers connect their Netflix accounts to Facebook to share what they’ve been watching, and to see what their friends have been watching.

The Video Privacy Protection Act, dating back to the days of VHS, had prevented the company from enabling this feature, but new amendments to the law cleared the way earlier this year.

The feature will show up in new rows in the Netflix interface, called “Watched by your friends” and “Friends’ Favorites.” The sharing is only on Netflix applications by default, but users can choose to also share their Netflix activity on Facebook by selecting that option in their Netflix accounts.

One catch: Many Netflix accounts are tied to families, not individuals, but you can only connect your Netflix account to one Facebook account — which means, for now, that many parents will be sharing their kids’ preferences for Dora and Diego with their adult friends, as discovered by TechCrunch this morning. Not exactly an optimal experience, but it could be resolved by the future launch of Netflix’s user profiles feature.

In addition, it will be important for Netflix users to remember that they’ve turned the sharing on. Once the feature is activated, all of the users’ Netflix activity is fair game, unless the user specifically clicks the “Don’t Share This” button in the Netflix player when a movie or show starts.

The sharing is opt-in, and it looks like the concept is already proving popular: I’ve been getting an error message when going to my family’s Netflix account settings this morning. Netflix says all of its U.S. members will have access to the new features by the end of the week.

Here’s a Netflix video with a rundown of the new features. Netflix says this will be available on almost all of its applications. The feature is shown in the video on a PlayStation 3; I’m checking to see if it’s also planned for the Netflix app on Microsoft’s Xbox Live.

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  • ChetCrunch

    I like the idea of being able to see what my friends have watched as a suggestions engine, but I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable sharing. (Especially due to the fact that my Facebook account, like most, goes well beyond my core friend group) Do I want everyone to know that I’ve been watching a whole lot of Frasier lately? And so what if my wife STILL watches Grey’s Anatomy? I think a feature allowing you to share with specific groups of friends/family would be a little more appealing to me.

  • BSimZ

    Netflix needs to first focus on building out its library so people have content to watch / worth sharing. Most movies are relatively unknown B quality movies, and at this point I would assume most people have watched the TV series available since they offer the newest content.

    • Bhaaa

      Totally agree! need more content before taking NF to the next step. If this goes on with this bad content, I will be canceling the service very soon.

    • Aaron Evans

      Netflix used to have plenty of content. But the media conglomerate decided they might want to compete with Netflix someday, so they’ve pulled the rug out from under them.

      Really, they just want you to watch what they want to show you when they want to show it. It’s about control even more than advertising dollars, though the two interests dovetail nicely.

    • Me

      You obviously don’t have much understanding of copyright ownership. Netflix actually has very little control over it’s library. They can only purchase viewing rights from companies that allow it or are willing to fit into Netflix’s pricing model. So, why doesn’t Netflix carry HBO shows? Because HBO asked for to much money and Netflix’s consumers do not want to pay more. We as consumers either have to pay more or companies like HBO have to charge less.

  • meh Mc Meh

    so we can talk about no recent movies

  • Aaron Hemmelgarn

    How about Trailers and actual ratings data pulled from IMDB? I’d sure love to watch a trailer, without having to leave Netflix and going to the web and find it! Actual ratings also helps us break down the film or shows success as well.

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