Plex sharing streaming habits raises privacy hackles

Plex sharing streaming habits raises privacy hackles

November 28, 2023 at 03:35PM

Plex’s new “Discover Together” feature, which shares users’ viewing activity with friends and sends weekly email updates, has raised privacy concerns among some users. Many feel that this violates their trust and privacy, especially since Plex is considered more private than other streaming services. While Plex claims the feature is opt-in, users argue that it feels more like an “opt-out” feature. The company has not yet responded to queries about this issue.

The meeting notes highlight a recent controversy surrounding the Plex streaming service and its “Discover Together” feature. This feature allows users’ activities, such as what they are watching, rating, and saving to their watchlists, to be shared with their friends. Plex also sends weekly emails to these friends detailing their activities on the streaming service. This has raised concerns among some users who believed that Plex, being self-hosted, would offer more privacy compared to other streaming services.

Users expressed their outrage on social media and Plex’s own user forum, stating that they were not aware their information was being collected, processed, and shared without their consent. They described this as a breach of trust and privacy. The discussions also ventured into topics like pornography and whether such information should be disclosed.

Plex did not respond to inquiries from The Register, but on the user forum and Twitter, they described the feature as opt-in. They stated that users needed to opt in to sync their watch history data and make it visible to friends. However, some users disputed this claim, with one reader reporting receiving an email of someone’s viewing habits without their knowledge.

Another user pointed out that the feature seemed more like an “opt-out” setting, where the default setting was to share with friends unless the user actively changed it. This approach does not align with privacy best practices and user satisfaction.

A Plex employee directed forum participants to adjust their email preferences, including the weekly review, by visiting a provided link.

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