Plex well and truly jumps the shark

Today, Plex has emailed many users details of what their “friends” have been watching this week on their friends own private servers. I.e. sharing personal information with 3rd parties without their explicit permission.

This is unfortunately just the latest recent misstep by Plex in adding features that many users didn’t ask for or want and gradually making their product massively more and more complex with diminishing returns to the point where users cannot make informed choices about the settings on their servers due to the complexity.

So, my friends, what are the alternatives that you use to Plex for hosting and playing video and audio media, and taking it offline on iOS and iPadOS for when you travel.

I need to investigate other options unfortunately.

4 Likes

I had been planning on setting up Plex over the holidays but now have misgivings about this. Curious what alternatives there are!

WTF? Why hasn’t this hit the mainstream media? That would be an enormous breach of user privacy if true.

I haven’t looked at this in great detail, but I’m seeing some conflicting info on this being an opt-in or opt-out by default feature. In my instance, I do not sync watch status, and as far as I remember this was not on by default: Sync Watch State and Ratings | Plex Support.

I think the other part of this is your email preferences: Email Preferences | Plex. I think you can still get these if your friend has sync status on, and you don’t, but your have email preferences are set to Email me a summary of my friends activity.

I know a lot of people seem to like syncing watch status with friends or http://trakt.tv, but I’m not one of them. I’m ok with it being a feature, but it should 100% be off by default.

As for alternatives, Jellyfin is probably the most mature option.

3 Likes

OK I just found the article @geoffaire was referring to.
This definitely was opted in without my permission to “friends”. Very upsetting!
I opted out of the stuff.

Special thanks to James @SpatialDisorder for the Email Preferences link. Unsubscribed there too.

I also went here (since I’m in one of the states that require Plex to allow opt out): Ad Vendors US | Plex

And clicked “All No”. Unbelievable how far one has to dig to get all these settings!

Why can’t Plex focus themselves on streaming and not all of this bullshit advertising. So tired of it.

1 Like

I have a lifetime PlexPass but quit using it when I couldn’t get rid of their free streaming services.

What do you use now? Jellyfin?

There’s not many options out there. I still use Plex with Infuse Pro (lifetime license…ugh! $$$)

100% jellyfin. Free and open source. Doesn’t require 3rd party auth to login (aka if Plex is down you can still watch your own movies on your local network), and don’t have to pay for transcoding.

Sure the apps for devices are as nice as plex’s native, but if your in MPU you have Apple devices and infuse is the best front end by far. I used this over Plex front end (so my experience when I switched to jellyfin a year ago has been unchanged).

1 Like

I don’t use anything, I deleted all of my ripped movies some time ago. I rarely watched any of them and most are available to stream, usually for free. If not, I still have the DVDs. I did keep the unique videos I accumulated over the years, like the short film series BMW made about 20 years with directors like Tony Scott and Ang Lee.

I’m a YouTube Premium subscriber and useYouTube Music. They have most of my collection and I upload the ones that they don’t. And it works with Siri.

1 Like

Emby is the best altrantive. Unfortunately, Plex is way more polished than Emby. Plex also has Prologue for Audiobooks and Plexamp for music. Emby is good for video but not for self-hosted music.

1 Like

Earlier this year I started using Channels, and it’s the most fun I’ve had with a tech project in years. I still have Plex running, as the family is accustomed to it, but even they have started using Channels more, so I could see myself stopping my use of Plex.

Channels started several years back with a focus on its DVR features, and then at one point added Plex-like features where you could add your own content. At times it feels like the developers sense the shift in the times away from time-based TV watching, and are shifting some of the focus to the media library features.

I only used the basic Plex features over the years, despite being a Plex Pass subscriber, and I know Channels isn’t as full-featured as Plex as a home media server, but it has served all my needs fine. You can’t have multiple user accounts like with Plex, but Channels DVR provides remote access, clients for AppleTV and Android devices, download to iOS clients, and transcoding if you want it, among other things.

You mentioned audio, and I’m not sure if Channels offers that or not. If interested, I’d play with the trial, as you may have certain needs like that. But it’s really fun.

My most fun is playing with and building upon the DVR features. I could go on and on about this, and some of the rabbit holes I’ve gone down and money I’ve spent, but your focus seems to be on the media server capabilities, so I’ll restrain my enthusiasm here. :slight_smile:

I wish Channels offered a one-time purchase price.

3 Likes

That would be a really bad idea as they’d run out of money.

I don’t know for sure, but I think that, in addition to just making profit, they need to pay for things like Guide data. So a one-time purchase probably isn’t doable.

I too have a lifetime plex pass, but I don’t see the streaming services.

I think that when they introduced them they were in your face. They made it easier to hide them. I hid them. It took a couple of minutes.

Also, the data sharing with friends was an option that had to turned on (I think) and I decided to not turn it on. I wonder if some folk turned it on without realising what they were doing.

So, for me, Plex just sits there and plays videos.

1 Like

They used dark patterns to default users to sharing data rather than explicitly asking users if they wished to share data. It was a really poor practice.

This article is worth a read if you want to verify some privacy related settings: Optimal Plex Settings for Privacy-Conscious Users