Netflix finally gets social with Facebook

The long-anticipated marriage between Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Facebook has been finalized. Starting today, U.S. subscribers who opt in will be able to see each others' digital movie libraries and interact with one other, including commenting on films and television shows.

According to Bloomberg, new Netflix software will update features that have been available to non-U.S. customers for the past two years and will include two new rows on the Netflix home page that show friends' activities, with the option to post movies or TV shows to Facebook while commenting on them.

International users will also get the update if they want it. Netflix spokesman Joris Evers pointed out that the process is voluntary and that 15 to 20 percent of Netflix customers in Canada, Latin America and the U.K. declined to show what they're watching or share it.

Netflix, of course, is counting on most people being sociable and creating buzz around programs that encourages more online viewing. The company's chairman, Reed Hastings, had lobbied Congress to change the Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988, which had barred movie rental companies from sharing people's rental history--a result of controversy after a newspaper published failed Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork's video preferences. That happened late last year, contributing to the change happening today.

"Social is going to be everything," Hastings said during a January interview recalled by Bloomberg. "Our kids are way more social than us; their kids will be way more social than them. You tell your friends about what you watch and they'll watch much more of what we offer."

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Commentary: For providers, how far does consumers' data privacy extend?

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