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Facebook's Auto-Play Videos Chew Up Expensive Data Plans 108

Another good reason to be annoyed by autoplaying videos online: it eats up dataplan allowances, making for some rude surprises. I'm always nervous about data allowances, and sites should be cautious about what they shove at you; turning off the autoplay feature isn't hard (and it's explained in the second article linked above), but I sure wish it was the default setting, or at least caught and handled by a browser extension. (Perhaps this is a job for Social Fixer's next iteration.) Is Facebook the worst offender on this front?
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Facebook's Auto-Play Videos Chew Up Expensive Data Plans

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Haven't we seen this news a few days ago already?

  • ...with auto-dupes of last week's stories

    • One's right to life, liberty, property, speech, press, freedom of worship and assembly may not be submitted to vote

      Unless of course, if you're black, gay, or an undocumented immigrant...

  • get F.B. Purity (Score:3, Informative)

    by melios ( 164381 ) on Sunday September 07, 2014 @03:52PM (#47848145)
    F.B. Purity [fbpurity.com] is available as an addon or GreaseMonkey script and already has the option to disable autoplay, among other things.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 07, 2014 @04:48PM (#47848447)

      Back when I first started using Phoenix/Firebird/Firefox years back, one of its best features was its extensibility. It was easy to install and write addons that could drastically improve the browsing experience.

      These addons were almost always adding useful functionality. Firebug is a great example of this, where it makes Firefox much more useful for web developers. I'd also installed other addons that added new functionality to Firefox, like the ability to take screenshots of entire web pages.

      These days, though, more and more of the addons I'm installing aren't to add useful functionality to Firefox, but just to fix really fucking stupid design decisions made by hipsters. The UI of Firefox, starting with Firefox 4, has continually gotten worse and worse. Now I have to install a handful of addons to undo these idiotic UI changes. It got even worse when Australis was forced upon us.

      Thankfully I don't use Facebook, but if I did, this would be yet another addon I'd have to install that doesn't really improve the browsing experience, it just helps avoid stupidity forced upon us by some hipster designers over at Facebook.

      Something is seriously wrong when I have 2 or 3 addons that add useful custom functionality to Firefox, but then another 10+ addons that just fix asinine UI changes made by the Firefox devs, or that block asinine website functionality like auto-playing videos. Seriously, these hipster designers need to go. Everything they touch ends up much worse off.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        What do you expect?
        "All the cool hip kids got out of college in the middle of the last decade and got employed at all these places. (Microsoft included)

        Instead of nice, useful, usable interfaces with the ability to have advanced toolbars enabled for various types of work, we got shit like Ribbon and a triple-bad menu with everything behind it. And because of silly over-optimizations by optimization freaks, the menu isn't even always loaded and can get unloaded to save memory, so when you open the menu, it

      • ...These days, though, more and more of the addons I'm installing aren't to add useful functionality to Firefox, but just to fix really fucking stupid design decisions made by hipsters. The UI of Firefox, starting with Firefox 4, has continually gotten worse and worse. Now I have to install a handful of addons to undo these idiotic UI changes. It got even worse when Australis was forced upon us....

        In my experience, the QA process for those add-ons is not nearly as good as the QA process for the FireFox browser. As a result, the functionality reclaimed by using those add-ons is usually problematic, at best.

        The bug-fest called Classic Browser theme, or something like that, which reinstates the functional UI that Australis removed, is what convinced me to leave Firefox in the dust and start using Pale Moon as my browser of choice.

    • Or you could just change the Facebook settings without downloading additional crap.

      • Until FB change it back again without telling you. Seriously fuck FB. How do they even still exist? Surely like the myriad of IM apps that sprung up when ICQ first got popular, someone can make the stripped-back, bares-bones, post sharing app that is just enough like FB to be usable, but with all the crap that makes it suck. I'm sure most people would be happy with an app that allows to connect to people, post comments and pics and that's pretty much it. I thought G+ was going to come to the party, but my
        • Until FB change it back again without telling you.

          Oh my god, how horrible. My videos may autoplay again.

          Sorry but the possibility that someone may somewhere change a setting is still not enough to warrant going through the effort of setting up browser plugins to do what is already just an optional tickbox.

          Also you're assuming that people want a really basic system. Most people don't. As platforms like snapshat and twitter have shown they tend to augment things like Facebook.

      • by tsqr ( 808554 )

        Or you could just change the Facebook settings without downloading additional crap.

        Not with the latest Android app, you can't. The "Video Auto-play" option was removed.

        • Not sure you're trolling, or just so immeasurably blind / stupid that you can't find an option that is on the first page of the settings.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm not a big sports fan, and at this point the autoplay feature on pretty much every sports site has made me effectively even less of a sports fan since in the infrequent chance a sports news headline interests me I won't bother clicking on it unless it's from a non-sports site.
     
    Some news sites have started to pick up on it, with auto-play videos accompanying articles, to which I have to wonder why they haven't fired the writers if the articles are so worthless or redundant.

  • by ihtoit ( 3393327 ) on Sunday September 07, 2014 @03:59PM (#47848181)

    it kicks the snot out of the loadtime for the rest of the page as it seems to want to buffer the entire fucking stream first, I tend to go find myself another source. If slashdot ever decided to pull this shit, I'd go find a privately hosted nerd site. Or build my own. With blackjack and hookers.

    • If slashdot ever decided to pull this shit

      Doesn't it? I don't have flash installed so it doesn't happen to me, but I seem to remember it beginning to occur recently if I visited slashdot with chrome

      • If slashdot ever decided to pull this shit

        Doesn't it? I don't have flash installed so it doesn't happen to me, but I seem to remember it beginning to occur recently if I visited slashdot with chrome

        Is it the ads? For all that site operators hate Ad blockers they forget to look at the bandwidth and compute resources their own advertisements take up. Especially flash ads.

        Of course, even if most sites did fix that issue, all it takes is one obnoxious site that's needed for something to convince a person to install an Ad blocker. Then there's the user tracking aspect....

        • by MarkusH ( 198450 )

          I keep Slashdot on the whitelist to try to help support the site, but just today an ad auto-played. If advertisers don't knock it off, I'll sadly have to remove Slashdot from the list.

          • I paid Slashdot $5 or $10 a few years ago, and have't seen an ad since.

          • I keep Slashdot on the whitelist to try to help support the site, but just today an ad auto-played. If advertisers don't knock it off, I'll sadly have to remove Slashdot from the list.

            Slashdot is part of a big conglomerate [wikipedia.org] these days. They're publicly traded which means their every thought must be about how to make more money for the shareholders. There's no need to feel guilty about blocking ads here. Do it, and be proud.

            • They're publicly traded which means their every thought must be about how to make more money for the shareholders.

              Why does this FUD still get mentioned? It is bogus misinterpretation of a court case. Please stop repeating it.

              • Because of things like this:

                http://bgr.com/2014/08/15/appl... [bgr.com]

                Investors have filed a lawsuit against Apple alleging that the companyâ(TM)s various anti-poaching agreements ultimately hurt the companyâ(TM)s stock. The class action suit was filed last week by Apple shareholder R. Andre Klein and it alleges that the anti-poaching agreements then-CEO Steve Jobs put in place with Google, Intel and other companies were a breach of Appleâ(TM)s responsibility to Shareholders. Klein says the agreement

                • There is a legal obligation to focus on profits.

                  A fiduciary duty is a legal duty to act solely in another party's interests. [...]

                  Examples of fiduciary relationships include [...] a director and her shareholders.

                  source: http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex... [cornell.edu] (aka the first google result for "fiduciary duty")

                  • No, they must try to make a profit, if that is what the corporation is for. Not all are. But the specific wording I objected to was:

                    They're publicly traded which means their every thought must be about how to make more money for the shareholders.

                    There is nothing saying that larger profits are the only thing a corporation can think about or focus on. If that were the case, every time a corporation gave to charity, or used company resources (money, vehicles, personnel, publicity, etc.) to sponsor an event, they would be sued by the stockholders for ignoring their fiduciary duty.

                    So, no, the fiduciary duty of a corporation

                    • What, besides profit, is in the best interest of all of the shareholder of a publicly traded corporation? Giving to charity and sponsoring events are examples of enlightened self-interest [wikipedia.org]. Take it too far and you will be sued by your shareholders..
                  • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

                    There is a legal obligation to focus on profits.

                    No, there is a legal obligation to act based on another party's interests, not based solely on another party's financial interests. Shareholders have interests other than money—having clean drinking water for their kids, supporting cultural growth, improving the quality of education, not getting buried in lawsuits from the government when you cross a legal line (though this one arguably is financial, just over the longer term), and so on. That's why yo

                    • Companies can be and are sued for giving to charity. It's not illegal because it can be in the (financial!) best interest of shareholders in a variety of ways (encouraging further investment, improving the corporation's image to customers, ... many more) Of course shareholders have other interests, but those interests are not why they are investing. They might choose to invest in one company over another for those reasons, but they are investing in the first place to make a profit. Otherwise it's not inves
        • If slashdot ever decided to pull this shit

          Doesn't it? I don't have flash installed so it doesn't happen to me, but I seem to remember it beginning to occur recently if I visited slashdot with chrome

          Is it the ads? ...

          Yes, it is. I just had audio suddenly come blasting out of my speakers. I hunted down the tab where I had the Slashdot homepage open and closed it, and the sound went away. I really can't afford to have stupid video ads sucking the bandwidth away from my VoIP when someone might call me, or weird audio coming out of the blue when I am on the phone with a client, so I guess I just won't be coming here much anymore.

        • Is it the ads? For all that site operators hate Ad blockers they forget to look at the bandwidth and compute resources their own advertisements take up. Especially flash ads.

          They don't forget, they simply don't care.

          There's a huge difference. The guys in marketing want their fancy ads and their impressions, they don't care about your bandwidth.

      • Autoplay, shmautoplay... I'd be thrilled to figure out how to access /. without the auto-refresh crap. I am fine -- more than fine, in fact -- clicking on the page refresh icon myself thank you very much.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Use Adblock Plus or something to add a filter like this: a.fsdn.com/sd/autorefresh-query.js?*

          No more autorefresh.

    • Sorry, CIG built one such site already, and guess what, they exceeded 52M bucks received.

  • ...the app. Only the website.

  • by Mishotaki ( 957104 ) on Sunday September 07, 2014 @04:06PM (#47848223)
    It's not a problem for me, I use Opera 12, i need to click to activate plug-ins before they even get downloaded from the site!
    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      Same here.

      Stop whinging about your browser allowing shit and treat data from the Internet as untrusted and unable to initiate actions without your explicit consent.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Sunday September 07, 2014 @04:09PM (#47848241)

    Facebook slurps up all your personal information and sells it to advertisers. It also slurps up all your friends' and family members' information - even if they aren't on Facebook themselves - keeps it in so-called "shadow profiles", and sells that to advertisers as well. Facebook also routinely changes its privacy controls without notice, and the new versions of the controls default to the most permissive settings - so you have to continually monitor them to "minimize" (in quotes because it's still a lot) how much of your personally identifiable information leaks out to the world at large. And they occasionally make policy changes that force you to share stuff that you'd previously tried to keep confined to within a small group.

    And what you're worried about is they might use more of your data plan?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yes, Facebook is so terrible with their rude auto-playing videos. Meanwhile there are three advertisement videos started automatically on the front page of Slashdot. Pot meet kettle.

  • by koan ( 80826 )

    It's not like Facebook is in cahoots with content providers....

    Who uses Facebook?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I work for a portal company; if you have one of the major ISPs in the United States, you (well, actually, your non-tech-savvy family members) probably use our services in one way or another. We've been pushing out tablet and phone versions of the portals and we have been forced to add auto-play videos. One of our marketing people was shocked - shocked I say - when he asked me what I thought of our current phone portal and my response was, "I'm glad I have flash blocked and ads blocked." I went on to tell hi

  • Mobile Browsers who when you click on them start to download all over again the last page you visited the day before. This page is in 99% of the cases not interesting for me. But the instant reload gobbles up my data plan. Chrome I'm looking at you!
  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Sunday September 07, 2014 @05:24PM (#47848637)

    Don't get me wrong.... I hate video autoplay.

    But I feel that things like this will ultimately result on pressure on carriers to correct the real problem: The dataplan allowances are way too low, AND 1 Gigabyte of data is priced way too high.

    So by having autoplay..... ordinary folks will be using more data, BUT they're not going to want to pay a lot, so there is going to be pressure on carriers to increase data allowances

    • Don't get me wrong.... I hate video autoplay.

      But I feel that things like this will ultimately result on pressure on carriers to correct the real problem:
      The dataplan allowances are way too low, AND
      1 Gigabyte of data is priced way too high.

      So by having autoplay..... ordinary folks will be using more data, BUT they're not going to want to pay a lot,
      so there is going to be pressure on carriers to increase data allowances

      Or pressure on the customers to pay more. Guess which one is automatic?

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        Or pressure on the customers to pay more. Guess which one is automatic?

        This is why it's so important to make sure there can't be any major mobile carriers doing any further consolidation and buying out of competition. Customers should be free to move away from carriers that will want them to pay more.

  • Perhaps they might be able to give you a hand with your punctuation.

  • by trawg ( 308495 ) on Sunday September 07, 2014 @05:54PM (#47848737) Homepage

    If you're logged into Facebook, this link should take you straight to the settings page where you can disable the auto-playing of videos:

    https://www.facebook.com/setti... [facebook.com]

    This should work for most people - although my brother (on Mac OS X) was not able to see the 'Videos' sub-menu (which for me appears in the list on the left at the very bottom).

    I only use the FB website on my mobile (the constant addition of new permissions turned me off the app), and am not sure if you can disable it within the app.

    • -1, anti-informative
      That setting affects auto-play in browsers, not in phone apps which is what the original articles explicitly refer to.

  • The autoplay feature is very annoying! Here's to hoping that Facebook gets its collective head out of its ass and rectifies the situation.
  • I got in trouble at work because of this feature. I had facebook open in a tab, and I didn't notice that it was autoloading videos in the background. My job doesn't care if I do some personal browsing during the day, but we have bandwidth limits... I was way, way, way over the limit. Lesson learned.
  • As others have pointed out, no need for a browser extension to handle this because it's a simple setting. As the developer of Social Fixer, I did post info to users about how to turn this off months ago: https://www.facebook.com/socialfixer/photos/a.382610684341.167165.174424289341/10152145424839342/

    Unfortunately, the setting doesn't persist across devices/apps. So setting it on the web won't help mobile anyway. Supposedly auto-play videos were only ever supposed to auto-play if the user was on wi-fi, but I

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