Goodbye freeloaders: Netflix enables remote logout

Couple watching Netflix on laptop in bed
(Image credit: Shutterstock / WeDesing)

Netflix just made a small but significant change to how it manages account logins. Now you can remotely sign someone out with one click.

Called "Managing Access and Devices," the new account-access control launches today (Nov. 15) and, as described in a Netflix blog post, lives under your standard Account Settings. In it, you can see all the devices currently using or recently streaming through your account and log them out with one click.

Netflix says this is about people who, say, travel, log in to their account in a hotel or even a friend's house, and forget to log out.

Yes. Sure.

It's also about reigning in account credential sharing. Former lovers, friends, and distant relatives you no longer speak to; their access to your account is probably about to end. 

Netflix Manage Access and Devices

(Image credit: Future)

The change also comes as Netflix is actively seeking to stem what it sees as rampant password sharing and has been testing a $2.99 surcharge for adding extra account members outside the household.

This latest "feature," could be seen as preparation for the full-scale implementation of that surcharge. Knowing you can quickly get account squatters off your Netflix account before the company starts charging you is a good thing.

It's been a rollercoaster of a year for Netflix, which started with falling subscriber numbers and multiple show cancellations as it sought to cut costs. The turmoil led Netflix to do something we thought it would never do: launch an ad-supported tier.

The $6.99 a month (£4.99 a month in the UK) tier delivers most of Netflix's current content library, along with 4-to-5 minutes of ads per hour. Not everyone is thrilled with it.

As for this new "Managing Access and Devices," we quickly located it in our Netflix Account management under "Security & Privacy," and found 21 devices signed into our account. Most were for devices used by the author.

Each record includes the device name, whose account is in use, the last watched date and time, and a location.

The last bit is probably the most useful. If you see a location you don't recognize, you can check if it's, for instance, someplace you recently traveled, or if someone is illicitly sharing your account from hundreds of miles away.

If you don't want that device using the account anymore, you just click "Sign Out." Whoever was watching will get the boot and won't be able to sign in again without proper credentials.

It's a whole new, shrinking Netflix account-sharing world.

Lance Ulanoff
US Editor in Chief

A 35-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.

Lance Ulanoff makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, Fox News, Fox Business, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC.