Netflix just made a big change that cracks down on shared accounts

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Netflix account sharing has been a way of life for so long, and in countries like India or Russia, has been encouraged by the streaming giant. Well, it seems that Netflix has had an about-face regarding the matter, and is using a new tool to crack down on shared accounts.

The Streamable reports that Netflix is starting to test a new tool that attempts to verify if users are actually in the same household. The efficacy of this test may be suspect.

News first came out online on March 9 when Twitter user @DOP3Sweet shared an image of their TV screen with a sign that Netflix suspected she was not using her own account. 

In big text, the alert reads "Start your own Netflix for free today," with passive emphasis on "your own," as Netflix accused the user of using someone else's subscription. The smaller print below states, "If you don't live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching."

This is a major change in posture, whereas back in 2016 Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings said account sharing was "a positive thing," especially in certain markets.

Below a "Join Free for 30 Days" button, users can "prove" they're not breaking Netflix's rules. 

Your three options are to verify yourself with a code sent to the account holder's email address, phone or verify later. We'd bet that if you pick the third option too many times you're gonna lose it as an option. 

Netflix told The Streamable that "This test is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so." We're guessing Netflix is using this tool for accounts whose IP addresses are too dissimilar. It isn’t clear if users in the test all need to be on the same IP address to be considered in the same household.

Of course, you could just text the account holder and ask them to send you the code that Netflix will send them. We wonder if Netflix will get more aggressive if it suspects you're doing this multiple times.

So, if you've been using your significant other's account, or anyone else's, and you're not in their home when you stream, Netflix (much like Santa) knows when you've been bad. And it's ready to turn off your free ride.

Simultaneous streams per account

While Netflix allows multiple streams on the same account, per the chart below, that does not apply to devices that aren't at the same home. The Netflix Terms of Use specifies (in Item 4.2) that "The Netflix service ... may not be shared with individuals beyond your household."

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PlanPriceSimultaneous streamsVideo quality
Premium$17.994HD and 4K Ultra HD
Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.