Netflix Eliminating Profiles: Tells Us We Don’t Own Our Data

Last night Netflix sent out an email (full text below) explaining that it will be getting rid of profiles. For those unfamiliar, the profile feature allows one account to have multiple profiles. For example, you could pay $13.99 to get 2 DVDs at a time sent to your addresss but have one DVD come from your queue of chosen movies while the other DVD comes from another queue of movies.

It also allowed each queue owner to have their own movie ratings, recommendations, friends, etc. This feature is/was especially useful for families. As long as you’re all at the same address, you could pay for the 2-at-a-time plan and have your movie ratings, friends, recommendations, notes (basically all features) separate from your spouse’s.

Not only is Netflix taking this feature away, the company is also reminding us that we don’t own our own data. In the FAQ about this decision, Netflix states the following (emphasis added):

  • Your additional Profile Queues will be eliminated. If you would like to keep a copy of each Profile Queue we recommend that you print them out
  • Prior to Profiles going away, we will also email you a copy of your Profile Queues
  • Profiles movie ratings and Profiles Friends connections will no longer be available
  • You will not be able to transfer your Profiles data to a separate new account

So if someone in your household has written movie reviews, made friends, rated movies, sent notes, received recommendations, etc. — basically done any of the cool so called “web 2.0” features made available on the site — they lose it all. You don’t even have the option to pay to keep it. How infuriating.

Netflix is quickly losing its otherwise positive image from this stupid mistake. The uprising has already begun. See Hacking Netflix for around 200 mostly negative responses or Get Satisfaction for another 50 or so. Some are hoping that there’s time for Netflix to change its mind, but Netflix spokesperson Steve Swasey said that the decision is a “final decision.”

See below for the ambiguous email sent from Netflix last night:

Important News Regarding Netflix Profiles

Dear Bob,

We wanted to let you know we will be eliminating Profiles, the feature that allowed you to set up separate DVD Queues under one account, effective September 1, 2008.

Each additional Profile Queue will be unavailable after September 1, 2008. Before then, we recommend you consolidate any of your Profile Queues to your main account Queue or print them out.

While it may be disappointing to see Profiles go away, this change will help us continue to improve the Netflix website for all our customers.

If you have any questions, please go to http://www.netflix.com/Help?p_faqid=3962 or call us anytime at 1 (888) 638-3549. We apologize for any inconvenience.

– The Netflix Team

*Update* So much for the “final decision,” Netflix has been “persuaded by the well-reasoned, sincere responses of loyal members” to reverse its decision!