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Facebook Blamed For Driving Up Cellphone Bills, But It's Not Alone 131

Posted by samzenpus
from the do-not-like-this dept.
colinneagle writes "Consumer site MoneySavingExpert.com reported today that it has seen "many complaints" from users who believe a recent increase in data-related charges on their cellphone bills are the result of Facebook's auto-play feature. The default setting for the auto-play feature launches and continues to play videos silently until the user either scrolls past it or clicks on it; if the user does the latter, the video then goes full-screen and activates audio. The silent auto-play occurs regardless of whether users are connected to Wi-Fi, LTE, or 3G.

However, it's likely that Facebook isn't entirely to blame for this kind of trend, but rather, with the debut of its auto-play feature, threw gas on an already growing fire of video-sharing services. Auto-play for video is a default setting on Instagram's app, although the company refers to it as "preload." Instagram only introduced video last summer, after the Vine app, a Twitter-backed app that auto-plays and loops six-second videos, started to see significant growth.

Facebook Blamed For Driving Up Cellphone Bills, But It's Not Alone

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  • by AbRASiON (589899) * on Thursday September 04, 2014 @03:13AM (#47823307) Journal

    Security whining about Facebook aside, there's a plethora of countries where your 3g/4g data limit per month is quite low. I've just come off a 600mb per month plan to 1gb. I only use about 300mb per month but I have on holiday gone up to about 800+mb in a month.

    The cost however, when you exceed your limit is _insane_ auto playing videos which you can't damn well stop is idiocy. They should have either a wifi only option or a play button. (I had the same issue with vice videos in twitter for a while too)

    Too many companies continue to take their product, fiddle / fuck with it for the sake of change (keeping UI designers in a job I suspect) and then antagonise their users. Google maps is a prime example, the new google maps is AWFUL compared to the existing one, lacking several key features. Please, stop fiddling and changing things.

  • by Harlequin80 (1671040) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @03:28AM (#47823345)

    In general auto-playing video is awful. I particularly hate it on news sites. For me it was the biggest reason for noscript.

  • by rebelwarlock (1319465) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @03:32AM (#47823355)
    Have you ever seen documentaries where poor people have to spend hours every day getting clean water, and it just makes you step back and realize how fucking easy you have it to have clean water on tap at all times? That's how I feel looking at the cellphone data situation in the US. I'm paying for the single cheapest cellphone plan I can get here in Taiwan, and I get 1.5gb of data with that. And that limit only kicks in after the first six months of free unlimited data expires.

    Sure, the facebook design is absolutely retarded, but I don't come close to my limit despite using facebook as a primary means of communication with most of my friends and family. Point your anger in the right direction.
  • Re:how about .... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr Z (6791) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @03:51AM (#47823415) Homepage Journal

    Ok, so you're saying "never launch the Facebook app" is the only responsible choice? These are videos that autoplay without audio when they're not even visible on the screen, so you don't even know that this is happening. (Ok, for the FB app, there is a setting to disable this, but the fact that people haven't heard of this without multiple news articles on the topic says that FB's default caught a good fraction of their users by surprise.)

    I personally have been bitten by autoplay ad videos on my BB10 when trying to visit news articles. I haven't found a way to disable video auto-play on this phone with its browser at all. (No, disabling Flash doesn't help.) Are you saying that the only responsible action is to never browse the web from my phone, so I never get bitten by a website that might spring an unwanted, unwarranted (and usually unrelated to the article) video on me? If I browse the web, I'm irresponsible?

    Please, do explain how personal responsibility plays a role here, and what it translates to for someone who has no interest in viewing any videos ever on his/her smartphone unless they explicitly ask them to be played. Do tell me how to rectify this moral failing.

  • by rholtzjr (928771) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @04:48AM (#47823525)

    Farcebook is a worthless application that has no inherent value other than wasting time and advertising how we live our daily activities. Who cares that I went to the mall, who cares that I hiked 10 miles, geez, and better yet let me advertise when I am not going to be home for the thieves to come ransack my home. This is an application that need to go away.

  • by Camael (1048726) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @05:24AM (#47823603)

    Too many companies continue to take their product, fiddle / fuck with it for the sake of change (keeping UI designers in a job I suspect) and then antagonise their users. Google maps is a prime example, the new google maps is AWFUL compared to the existing one, lacking several key features. Please, stop fiddling and changing things.

    In this case, I believe that it was a deliberate change forced on their users because it will directly benefit Facebook. Auto-play artificially increases the click-thru rate (or whatever method they are using to measure user interaction with ads these days). Facebook can then show these inflated numbers to advertisers to justify their premium rates.

    "Hey, you pay more to place video ads on Facebook but its worth it because most (all) of the viewers will see it/click on it!"

    This again drives home that to Facebook, we are not its customers, we are it's product.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."

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