Netflix‘s password-sharing crackdown is causing misery for millions of users — but social media users are not taking no for an answer and have found a workaround.
The hack first surfaced on Reddit’s Unethical Life Pro Tips channel and was seized on by disgruntled Netflix users.
Some complained the hack was too complex – others claimed to be so unhappy with the streaming giant they aimed to cancel their accounts.
The hack has since been shared more widely across social media, with one user claiming it saved their long-distance relationship.
Another Twitter user urged other VPN firms to introduce similar functions.
Could a VPN app offer a ‘way around’ Netflix’s password-sharing ban?
The technique, known as ‘tunneling,’ allows multiple people to connect from the same IP address (an internet address used by Netflix to identify where people are connecting from).
Netflix’s ‘ban’ uses IP addresses and other methods to detect whether users share passwords. Netflix said, ‘A Netflix account is for use by one household.’
NordVPN’s ‘Meshnet’ feature allows users to appear to be connecting from the same IP address as someone else (so that, for example, you can be on another continent and seem to be connecting from a friend’s house) and works on devices including Android TVs.
Rather than routing traffic through a VPN server (which changes your IP address to that of the server and which Netflix attempts to block by blocking lists of VPN servers), users can, for example, route internet traffic through a TV or laptop at home.
This means that other people connected to the same Meshnet will appear to be in the same place.
NordVPN said: ‘Meshnet lets you create your own VPN server through your own or your friends’ devices, no matter where they are in the world.’
Meshnet is generally used for sharing files or creating a virtual LAN for online games, allowing people to play together even if they are on different continents – but it can also be used to connect from a specific IP address, wherever you are.
Users can invite up to 10 friends to be part of the ‘family’ and extend invitations to 50 friends.
This lets the ‘friends’ access the same IP address (among the measures that Netflix uses to detect password sharing).
The connection between ‘friends’ is encrypted and allows other devices to share the same IP address – which (in theory at least) means that Netflix cannot detect an account being shared.
DailyMail.com tested the service, and Meshnet works without requiring a paid NordVPN subscription (although you will need to create a free account).
So, here’s how it works:
The hack first surfaced on Reddit’s Unethical Life Pro Tips channel and was seized on by disgruntled Netflix users
The Meshnet service allows you to appear to be logging in from elsewhere
Select the Meshnet toggle on the left
You can select which device to appear to be logged in from
To use Meshnet, you’ll need to install the NordVPN app on the devices you want to use – it works without a paid NordVPN membership.
To enable Meshnet (on Windows devices), turn on the NordVPN app, log in if prompted, and then turn on the Meshnet toggle at the left-hand side of the screen.
Meshnet has guidelines for other devices, including Android and iOS, here.
When the dialog box appears, select Turn on Meshnet.
Within Meshnet, your device is assigned a Nord name and a Meshnet IP address, which you can use to access the device from other linked devices.
To enable traffic routing (which allows devices to appear from the same IP address), select Route Traffic, and you’ll see a list of devices you can route traffic through.
All the devices signed into your NordVPN account will be able to access your Meshnet (and thus appear to be accessing the internet from your TV or laptop).
To add ‘external’ devices, i.e., devices from another NordVPN account, you can send invitations directly from the NordVPN app (select Link Devices, then enter the email address).
The invitation will appear on any devices that are logged in with Meshnet switched on.
Meshnet is available on cellphones, PCs and Android TV (which is used in many smart TVs)
As soon as the person accepts the invitation on a device, their device will become part of your Meshnet.
Meshnet is available on Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, and Android TV.
Users can link up to 10 personal and 50 external devices to their own network.
Netflix said it sent emails about account sharing to customers in 103 countries and territories, including the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Australia, Singapore, Mexico and Brazil.
The emails state that a Netflix account should only be used in one household.
Paying customers can add a member outside of their homes for an additional fee: the fee is $8 per month in the U.S.
Netflix last year said it was going to limit account sharing and was testing various approaches in some markets.
The company had estimated that more than 100 million households had supplied their log-in credentials to friends and family outside their homes.
As of the end of March, Netflix’s paying customers totaled 232.5 million globally.