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Netflix Password Changes Might Cause Rifts In Some Relationships

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Trust in relationships takes many forms. And for those who are Netflix-worthy, that means sharing a password. But some Netflix users faced an extra hurdle when they tried to log in. The company says it's doing a test to, quote, "help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so." So when is a password not just a password, but also leverage in a relationship?

SARAH LEMAR: When I was a sophomore, my roommate needed a Netflix password, so I shared mine with her.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "AMERICAN HORROR STORY")

SARAH PAULSON: (As Shelby Miller) That was the worst night of our lives.

LEMAR: I am Sarah Lemar. I am a graduate student in Milwaukee, Wis. So I had two roommates and we would all watch "American Horror Story" together.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "AMERICAN HORROR STORY")

PAULSON: (As Shelby Miller) Somebody help us.

LEMAR: And within a couple of years, we'd gotten what I thought to be a very big fight. And I thought I could really stick it to her if she didn't have my Netflix password anymore.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "CHOPPED")

TED ALLEN: Whose dish is on the chopping block?

LEMAR: She was very into the cooking shows that were on Netflix.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "CHOPPED")

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: The dish was very nice looking. We had wished you had concentrated a little bit more on the flavor.

LEMAR: She was just very distressed because I think she was in the middle of an episode, and she didn't remember which episode it was. And she was just distraught.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "CHOPPED")

ALLEN: Congratulations. You are the "Chopped" champion.

LEMAR: It was kind of a symbolic gesture of the end of our friendship, but that seemed more upsetting to her - that I cut her off from my Netflix - than any of the fight we had had before.

MARY WYNNE KLING: My name is Mary Wynne Kling. I live in Auburn, Ala. I had just found out I was getting divorced, went through all of the bills trying to figure out how I'm going to financially manage all of this and being a single mom. And I realized that my parents had given me my Netflix subscription for Christmas that year. And so I went and changed the password and didn't say anything to my ex-husband with whom I was still sharing a house. That - at the time, we had a 5-year-old daughter who really loved Netflix.

(SOUNDBITE OF DANIEL INGRAM, ANNE BRYANT, AND CLIFFORD KLINDER'S "FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) My Little Pony, My Little Pony.

WYNNE KLING: And he was having a really hard time keeping her entertained without being able to feed her Netflix addiction.

TOM ATCHITY: This story is about partners that manage breaking up while sharing streaming accounts, and I have a good one.

(SOUNDBITE OF SUFJAN STEVENS' "DEATH WITH DIGNITY")

ATCHITY: My name is Tom Atchity. I live in Austin, Texas. I was dating somebody for about two years, and we broke up. It was a very supportive, good breakup - as good as they can be - but still obviously very sad.

(SOUNDBITE OF SUFJAN STEVENS' "DEATH WITH DIGNITY")

ATCHITY: Two days in, I got home, and a couple of friends were waiting on me. And one of my buddies said, Tom, before you got home from work, your ex had her Hulu account on the Roku, and I happened to fast forward through all of her episodes of all the shows she watches.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: I really like that house.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: (Laughter) Me too.

ATCHITY: And we also took some time to just completely screw up her algorithm by just watching a bunch of random stuff before you got home.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "UNACKNOWLEDGED")

GIANCARLO ESPOSITO: For as long as mankind has fixed his gaze upon the heavens, the age-old question has remained - are we alone in the universe?

ATCHITY: In that moment, like a cascade of emotions washed over me. One, gosh, that's really stupid. On the other hand, I was like, that is brilliant. What a ruse. And also, I was kind of touched that my friends cared enough to mess with a streaming service on my behalf.

CHANG: These interviews were compiled by NPR's Elizabeth Blair.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.