Optimal Plex Settings for Privacy-Conscious Users
Update these settings to limit the data Plex collects about your account, content, and streaming habits
The popular self-hosted media streaming server Plex ruffled some feathers this week after launching Week in review, a customized e-mail newsletter recapping the latest content being watched and rated by friends on the platform:
The e-mail drew ire from the community as it questioned the ethics of opt-out e-mail marketing and expressed concerns over the privacy of its data, both reasons users frequency cite as motivation for self-hosting. (Note that Plex's documentation does outline the data that is collected and visible to its employees.)
And while viable self-hosted alternatives like Jellyfin exist, many users don't view its functionality or ecosystem as mature enough to make the switch from Plex, which streamlines content sharing via intervention with authentication and remote access capabilities.
This isn't the first time Plex has found itself in hot water, but given the complexities of switching ecosystems, we've compiled a list of the settings we frequently encourage our own users to review upon creating an account. Updating these settings won't make Plex perfect or bring it to parity with the privacy of alternatives like Jellyfin, but it should bring some peace of mind if you trust that Plex is abiding by its own content policies and commitments to users.
Update 2023-11-22: Added links/instructions for removing Plex Friends
Opt out of the various marketing e-mails Plex sends using the link below. Deselect individual publications or select Unsubscribe from ALL to prevent any future e-mails from being delivered to your inbox.
Certain states and regions can opt out of the data shared with ad partners for personalized experiences. Follow the link below, select All No under Consent?, and then click Save Preferences towards the bottom of the page.
Optional Playback Data
Plex collects technical information about the content you stream from personal servers. Uncheck the box next to Send playback data to Plex in the Optional Playback Data section to opt out.
Profile Privacy Settings
Manage the visibility of your profile's streaming activity on Plex from the settings linked below (scroll to the bottom for the relevant settings).
Sync Watch State and Ratings
Plex offers the ability to sync watch states across personal servers and their own media content and services. To disable this, navigate to the account settings linked below and click on Update this setting underneath Sync my watch state and ratings.
Online Media Sources
Manage the activity from your friends displayed in Plex using the link below. While you're there, disable everything else if you're not interested in Plex's own content offerings.
Plex provides functionality for users to connect as friends and assigns users on shared servers as friends by default. Navigate to the My Friends page linked below to view a list of connected friends and remove any by selecting the user, clicking the Friends button, and clicking Remove Friend in the dialogue box that appears. (Note that administrators can remove users as friends while still sharing media libraries with them.)