Bots Sell Illegal Netflix Logins

This story was co-written with Philippe Borremans, an independent consultant specialized in risk, crisis and emergency communication and editor of the Wag The Dog Newsletter).

Despite fierce competition clawing at its heels, Netflix remains a leader in the streaming services industry, boasting over 260 million subscribers across 190 countries. Yet, as its empire expands, so do piracy and the illegal sharing of accounts. In recent years, Netflix has taken proactive steps to combat these illicit activities. However, the streaming giant might not know that some of those unlawful deeds can be tracked to their source—social media.

In the abundance of Netflix conversations on social, Cyabra was able to identify a huge presence of fake profiles taking part in the discourse: On X, 29% of the conversation was generated by bots.

Cyabra analyzed the activity of the fake profiles and concluded they were part of an illegal campaign originating from Indonesia, which promoted sales of unlicensed Netflix accounts.

The operators of those bots were able to identify the hashtag #zonauang (translated as #moneyzone) used by real and fake profiles who requested free access to Netflix. The bots responded to those requests by offering illegal purchases of Netflix login credentials.

The methods practiced by the fake profiles can be witnessed in the images below: 

The fake profiles’ content achieved significant traffic due to their high activity on X and their extensive use of the hashtag. In one week, the bots’ content garnered 16,000 interactions and reached the potential eyes of over 2 million people. Although this fake campaign is still new, it has already begun causing harm to Netflix, both financially and reputationally. Financially, because potential clients exposed to the campaign might purchase unauthorized logins—some without even realizing they are engaging in illegal activities. Reputationally, when such a large portion of the conversation about Netflix is dominated by fake profiles selling illegal services, it has a lasting effect on Netflix’s brand. The fake campaign pollutes authentic discussion, creating confusion and mistrust.

The Next Steps For Netflix’s Teams

Here are  some crisis communication tactics that Netflix’s communications team could consider to effectively manage this situation and restore user trust.

Proactive public statements

The first step in any crisis is to acknowledge the problem. Netflix should issue an immediate, clear and concise statement. This statement should not only acknowledge the situation, but also emphasise Netflix’s unwavering commitment to subscriber safety. It is crucial that the steps taken to combat the illegal sale of account logins are detailed and that users are supported in securing their accounts. In my experience, transparency is the key to maintaining trust here.

Improved social media monitoring

When misinformation spreads, it does so very quickly, especially on social media. Netflix should use advanced monitoring tools to recognise and remove fake profiles and content created by bots. Communicating directly with real users to correct misinformation and amplify genuine interactions can help maintain a factual narrative. This approach has proven effective in previous cases, as the direct interaction has helped curb the spread of misinformation.

Awareness campaigns

It is important to educate users about the risks associated with engaging with unauthorised providers. Netflix could launch an awareness campaign with infographics, videos and articles. These resources should be distributed through various platforms, such as social media, emails and directly on the Netflix platform. Education is an effective way to prevent future incidents.

Partnerships with social media platforms

Collaboration is often overlooked but is incredibly effective. By partnering with major social media platforms, Netflix can help develop better mechanisms to identify and stop illegal activity at the source. These partnerships can increase efficiency in identifying and removing bot accounts and other sources of illegal activity.

Legal steps and transparency

Nothing deters illegal activity like the threat of legal action. Netflix should publicly disclose any legal action taken against the operators of these systems. The transparency of these actions will reassure users that Netflix is proactively protecting their interests and may deter future illegal activity.

Improved customer support

During a crisis, customer inquiries and concerns will inevitably increase. It is important to strengthen customer support to cope with this increase. Netflix should provide its customers with clear and easily accessible channels to report suspicious activity related to their accounts. In my practice, I have found that solid customer support is often the first line of defense in crisis management.

Regular updates

Crisis communication is not a one-time task, but an ongoing process. As the situation evolves, Netflix should provide regular updates on the actions taken. These updates can be communicated via press releases, social media updates and direct messages to users’ emails. Keeping stakeholders informed helps to maintain a controlled and transparent narrative.

Stakeholder engagement

Finally, it is important to engage with other stakeholders in the industry to discuss best practices to prevent similar crises. Collaborative efforts to improve safety measures across all platforms offering streaming services can lead to industry-wide improvements in dealing with such situations.

The implementation of these tactics should be part of a broader, strategic crisis communications plan aimed not only at managing the current situation, but also at minimizing the damage to Netflix’s reputation and restoring user trust.


If you want to learn more about crisis and risk communication, as well as the use of technology and AI in Public Relations, get in touch with Philippe Borremans.

To learn more about detecing bots and fake campaigns directed at your brand, reach out to Cyabra.