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Should you share your Hulu, Amazon Prime passwords?

Chicago Tribune

Q: Someone asks you to share your password for streaming cable services like Hulu or Amazon Prime. Should you say no or go ahead — and risk exposing personal information?

What rational person would not fear identity theft? My advice: Never share a password with anyone aside from immediate family members in your household.

You might sympathize with the desire of a financially strapped friend to save a few bucks. Still, the cost of Hulu, for example, is minuscule compared with the risk of someone, at best, exploiting your account or, at worst, finding a way to access personal and financial information about you.

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If a friend poses such a request, you might consider whether he or she has a tendency toward invasion, aggression and exploitation. If the person strikes you as simply naive or financially pinched, you should respond with tact and grace. Say something like, "I would love to help you, buddy, but I have a personal policy of never sharing a password."

Kari Winter, director of the University at Buffalo's Gender Institute who studies relationships through literature and history

It's easy to say yes, but if you love great entertainment, it's important to say no.

For one, sharing your password is unethical. The content on these platforms is expensive to make and relies on the creative talents of hundreds of people. If you enjoy their work, they deserve to get paid.

Second, you expose yourself to security and privacy risks if this person shares your password with friends. Plus, under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, password sharing could be a federal crime.

We recommend starting by asking what he or she enjoys about the shows on these platforms.

Then explain that you also like them and that's why you are committed to respecting the limits the platform has established on password sharing. You can say, "A few dollars a month for your own subscription is a small price to pay for your favorite shows — and it's a smart investment in the future of great entertainment."

— Michael Smith and Rahul Telang, professors at Carnegie Mellon University and co-authors of "Streaming, Sharing, Stealing: Big Data and the Future of Entertainment"

Social Graces is a series asking two experts for advice on awkward situations.

Andreea Ciulac is a freelancer.

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