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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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