The leading video service will now allow its domestic subscribers to automatically share what they're viewing -- if they want to -- through the world's leading social networking site.
If you're thinking that this is a move that's long overdue, don't blame Netflix for dragging its feet.
Netflix incorporated this feature in 44 of the 45 countries that it was doing business in back in 2011 when Facebook made it possible. The United States was the lone holdout, held back by an archaic 1980s law that prohibited sharing of video viewing data even if the consumer approved.
Netflix asked its users to get behind H.R. 2471 -- a House bill that eventually cleared its way into law -- and now the video service became more personal.
What exactly is Netflix Social? Well, in the coming days, a pop-up promo on the Netflix interface will ask subscribers if they want to share their viewing choices with Facebook friends. If so, two new social rows will appear in the Netflix streaming interface. One entitled Friends' Favorites will show all of the titles that fellow opt-in Facebook friends have rated four or five stars. A second row shows the videos that have been recently viewed by friends.
Is this too creepy? Is Netflix the next Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) with annoying status updates going out into news feeds when someone completes a silly social gaming achievement? What happens if you catch a saucy video or a bad movie that you'd rather not share?
No worries. Again, this is entirely optional. The default setting even for those who do opt in is to only share through Netflix, though subscribers can also check off the box to share that info automatically through Facebook itself. As for the guilty pleasures, Netflix has you covered there, too. You can "unshare" any item on your profile.
This is a smart move that will help engagement on both Netflix and Facebook. It will give friends more stuff to talk about. Sure, folks are already posting "Walking Dead" and "Game of Thrones" chatter with every passing episode, but now folks will be armed with more conversation starters through shared consumption experiences.
It may have seemed a tad personal at the time, but didn't you feel the same way about everything you're sharing on Facebook these days?
Netflix knows what it's doing, and it's just a neat coincidence that CEO Reed Hastings just happens to sit on Facebook's board of directors.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Facebook and Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.