Umm, Hulu, Why Are You Publishing My Viewing History?

It’s entirely possible I missed it. It happens! Sometimes things slip by my burning gaze. However, I was a little startled to see, as I watched another episode of Misfits, that a new button appeared on the Hulu player, asking who I would like to share this video with. The default option: Everyone. Everyone you say?

Yes, everyone. As it turns out, Hulu has a public feed of all the shows you’ve watched. Provided you have a profile on Hulu, of course. And if you have Hulu Plus, you do.

I will be as forthcoming as I can. I am unsure of exactly when this popped up. My feed goes back about a month, but it’s unclear if that’s when it started, or if it retroactively published the last month of my backlog. However, it’s worth noting that at no point have I clicked anything saying I wish to publish my activity for all the internet to see. Full disclosure, I share this account with another computer in my household. Everyone in my home who’s used it, though, also says they’ve never seen any such permissions box.

I would legitimately like to know. We’ve heard scattered responses, saying that this behavior has been in place for a while, and confirmed that public is the default behavior. We’ve reached out to Hulu for comment, but have not heard back at time of writing.

Hulu, if it turns out you’re creating social features without users’ permission—and crappy ones at that—we are going to have problems. I’m one of three people I know who actually pay for Hulu Plus. The service is already of questionable value, and if it weren’t for my devotion to House reruns, I likely wouldn’t have it in the first place. This would be a bad time to alienate users with amateurish privacy policy changes.

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