"One of my friends is apparently watching a ton of cheesy, soft porn stuff… and I am 100 percent sure they would be mortified to know that I know this."

Racy Revelations

This month, the streaming service Plex rolled out a new feature called "Discover Together" that shows people what their friends are watching — and the backlash has been explosive.

"This might be the dumbest addition ever and might push me even closer to switching to another service," one commenter wrote under the official announcement.

Why? On top of adding an unsolicited social media aspect to a service that a ton of its users want to use solely as a way to stream their collection of pirated movies and ripped Blu-rays — something the company tries to downplay, of course — Plex's new feature is a privacy nightmare waiting to happen.

It's already led to some embarrassing disclosures. As 404Media reports, users took notice last week when Plex sent out a "week in review" email that, in some cases, piped people's porn habits straight into their friend's inboxes.

"I can see that one of my friends is apparently watching a ton of cheesy, soft porn stuff... and I am 100 percent sure they would be mortified to know that I know this," one user wrote on the Plex Forums, as quoted by 404Media.

Sell Out

Plex originally started as a free media server tool, effectively a way to host a personalized streaming service of sorts using your computer pieced together from downloaded movies, TV shows, and perhaps stuff that's a little more tawdry. In recent years, the company has tried to more-or-less gentrify its image, attaching its own free, ad-supported streaming service in 2019.

The "Discover Together" feature can be seen as a continuation of efforts to monetize the platform. Of course, the porn SNAFU is a pretty comical example of it going wrong, but Plex's feature also has a particularly dystopian slant, as many of its users are complaining.

Hundreds of posts have flooded its official forum with titles like "Discover Together and Week in Review emails are a MASSIVE breach of privacy and trust!" and "Plex crossed a line with 'Your week in review' emails today," per 404.

A huge grievance is that the feature is opt-out rather than opt-in, meaning that it was enabled for many users without them knowing. Plex has fired back, saying in a statement to 404 that it did provide an upfront onboarding process for every user via an email and in-app announcement. With the deluge of complaints, however, something clearly got lost in communication.

Sharing, Not Caring

Nevertheless, many users argue that this kind of data sharing shouldn't even exist in the first place. Not only is it anti-privacy, but it potentially endangers those with, shall we say, curated movie libraries of dubious provenance.

"The fact that this data is available to you AT ALL That is just... Mind boggling, and completely against the very notion of self hosting," another user wrote, per 404. "Certain entities would LOVE to have that data... which could mean jail time for some."

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