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

samzenpus posted about three weeks ago | from the do-not-like-this dept.

Facebook 131

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.

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Stupid design, appalling (5, Insightful)

AbRASiON (589899) | about three weeks ago | (#47823307)

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.

Re: Stupid design, appalling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47823323)

There is a wifi only option on Android at least.

Re: Stupid design, appalling (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about three weeks ago | (#47823373)

There is, but it's to coarse grained. For example, I'd be happy for an IM application to use mobile data, because it's likely to be very low traffic. I'd like my web browser to use mobile data sometimes: when I'm away from WiFi and need to look something up urgently. I want everything else to be restricted to WiFi. I want these settings to vary slightly between when I'm at home and when I'm roaming, as data charges can vary by a couple of orders of magnitude.

Android actually does provide an interface for doing this, but everything defaults to being able to be used all of the time. Within some applications (e.g. web browser) I want something like the old 'show images' button from the MODEM days, so that images, videos, and anything else large will not be downloaded unless I opt in on a specific page.

Re: Stupid design, appalling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47823529)

I want something like the old 'show images' button from the MODEM days, so that images, videos, and anything else large will not be downloaded unless I opt in on a specific page.

Welcome to 2014.
If you are lucky the image isn't converted to a base64-string on the server and embedded in the img-tag in the html document. (src="data:image/png;base64,iVBORwA")
If you are unlucky the javascript that fetches the rest of the page content also fetches the raw image data as a json-object and builds the img-src on the fly.

Re: Stupid design, appalling (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about two weeks ago | (#47824431)

In some ways, I wish more sites would do stuff like that. It would stop my mobile ISP from "helping me save bandwidth" by intercepting all the images on sites I visit and compressing them so horribly that they are often useless. I didn't ask them to do that, I don't get anywhere near my bandwidth allowance, and they aren't providing the service I pay for.

Re: Stupid design, appalling (5, Interesting)

johanw (1001493) | about three weeks ago | (#47823549)

Welcome to the world of rooted Android phones. With AfWall+ you can set on a per-application basis wether it can dial out on mobile data, roaming mobile data, WiFi (split into general WiFi and LAN if you want to enable this), and allow VPN connections only if you want. Each option's availability can be selected so if you don't do anything with VPN's you wdon't have to select it.

Re: Stupid design, appalling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47823849)

Facebook itself has this option; that makes it fine grained enough. Go into facebook and tell it to only do video over WiFi. Problem almost solved. Some people have plans with MiFi type devices that they use for access. Of course the phone will see that as WiFi - since it is - but it is also very likely to have a limited plan...

Re: Stupid design, appalling (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about two weeks ago | (#47823919)

There is, but it's to coarse grained.

He was talking about Facebook itself. The Android app under settings allows you to turn auto-play videos Off, On, or Wifi-Only.

Also I'm not sure about your phone but with mine I can disable data over cellular in the swipe down settings. It's literally a swipe and a single click, so if you really want to restrict everything and then only use it as required that would be the easy way to do it system wide and is about as complicated as turning on screen rotation.

Re: Stupid design, appalling (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about two weeks ago | (#47823943)

Also I'm not sure about your phone but with mine I can disable data over cellular in the swipe down settings. It's literally a swipe and a single click, so if you really want to restrict everything and then only use it as required that would be the easy way to do it system wide and is about as complicated as turning on screen rotation.

You didn't read my post, did you? You can turn it off globally, but it's really hard to then turn it on for a subset of applications. You have to individually disable each one's access (and they all default to 'on', so you have to remember to do it again after installing each new app). If I turn on mobile data somewhere expensive to look something up urgently (or, for example, to get an updated boarding pass for a flight) then suddenly a dozen applications will say 'whee, Internet! Let's download a load of updates!'

Re: Stupid design, appalling (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about two weeks ago | (#47824805)

You can turn off background sync to stop the dozens of apps kicking in (though I believe it's an honor system thing).

Re:Stupid design, appalling (4, Insightful)

Harlequin80 (1671040) | about three weeks ago | (#47823345)

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

Re:Stupid design, appalling (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about two weeks ago | (#47823773)

For me it was the biggest reason for noscript.

Flashblock, surely?

Makes me think: is auto-playing HTML5 video a possibility? If so, can this easily be disabled in browsers' settings?

Re:Stupid design, appalling (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | about two weeks ago | (#47823837)

Flashblock, surely?

Makes me think: is auto-playing HTML5 video a possibility? If so, can this easily be disabled in browsers' settings?

Flashblock will block HTML5 videos too.

Re:Stupid design, appalling (3, Informative)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about two weeks ago | (#47824481)

Makes me think: is auto-playing HTML5 video a possibility?

Yes, there's a standard way to specify autoplay for HTML5 videos. However, not all browsers will respect it. For example, Safari on iOS won't play unless the user specifically starts the video, and this was a deliberate decision on Apple's part.

Re:Stupid design, appalling (1)

timeOday (582209) | about two weeks ago | (#47825407)

Why isn't flashblock doing it for me? I have used it for a long time, but lately some sites including slate.com still seem to be able to auto-play videos on me? Anybody else have this problem?

Re:Stupid design, appalling (2)

Aboroth (1841308) | about three weeks ago | (#47823467)

No kidding, data plans in Germany are atrocious. I only get 100MB/month. There's more expensive plans but in my opinion the data cap for 4G is always too low for too little money. I expected a lot less retardery after hearing for so long about how much better Europe is for cell phones.

Re:Stupid design, appalling (2)

Aboroth (1841308) | about three weeks ago | (#47823471)

Erm, that is, the 4G cap is too low for too much money. That's what I get for not adjusting my sleep schedule properly.

Re:Stupid design, appalling (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about two weeks ago | (#47824825)

How low for how much?

I'm just curious because the Europeans always yammer about how much better it is there.

Re:Stupid design, appalling (4, Informative)

pabacon (903935) | about three weeks ago | (#47823555)

They should have either a wifi only option or a play button

There actually are options for wifi-only or to disable auto-play entirely but yes, one of these should be the default.

Re:Stupid design, appalling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47825549)

Actually I just noticed today that one of the more recent versions of FB app for iOS does now include an added "autoplay:no" option rather than just the wifi-only options. I am astounded that this feature was added, since Fb seems to love shoving things down people's throats.

Re:Stupid design, appalling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47823571)

auto playing videos which you can't damn well stop is idiocy

I'd like to pin the blame for this, not on Facebook, but on the people who write the browsers. You can assume that there'll be some stupid site on the internet which will try to waste your bandwidth - but a browser shouldn't permit it to do so. Browsers should never auto-play videos.

Read first? (5, Informative)

Camael (1048726) | about three weeks ago | (#47823609)

I'd like to pin the blame for this, not on Facebook, but on the people who write the browsers. You can assume that there'll be some stupid site on the internet which will try to waste your bandwidth - but a browser shouldn't permit it to do so. Browsers should never auto-play videos.

If you read TFA:-

A default feature in Facebook’s mobile app that automatically launches videos in users’ newsfeeds has been blamed for devouring mobile phone users’ data and driving up their cellphone bills.

Nothing to do with browsers.

What about microphone usage? (1)

justthinkit (954982) | about two weeks ago | (#47825073)

Facebook now taps into [forbes.com] smartphone microphones "just to get a 'fingerprint' that we don't save". This will drive up data usage as well, and is also being done clandestinely.

Intentionally bad design, still appalling (4, Insightful)

Camael (1048726) | about three weeks ago | (#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.

Re:Intentionally bad design, still appalling (2)

FireFury03 (653718) | about two weeks ago | (#47823861)

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.

It's one of the (great many) reasons why using web apps for business frequently sounds nuts to me.

How often over the years have we heard stuff like "we can't switch from Office to OpenOffice because of the costs involved in retraining everyone to use a different UI"? Well with a "cloud app" you have *exactly* this problem, coupled with the fact that you usually get no notice that it's going to happen - you just log in one day and everything's moved around.

Re:Intentionally bad design, still appalling (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about two weeks ago | (#47823925)

Except that Facebook doesn't auto-play video adverts, only user posted content. It also gives you the option to disable it, and on a mobile device it also gives you the option to auto-play on wifi only.

Re:Stupid design, appalling (0)

thegarbz (1787294) | about two weeks ago | (#47823907)

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)

Facebook has provided this. Just hit settings and turn off autoplay videos and you get a lovely little play icon.

This article is another big whine on behalf of users who don't bother to actually hit a settings button or Google a problem.

Re:Stupid design, appalling (2)

pla (258480) | about two weeks ago | (#47824025)

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.

I agree with you completely (in particular about the new god-awful Google Maps interface, hell, it makes Beta almost look like a role-model of useability by comparison), but I think you, and the FP, and TFA, and countless others complaining about this issue may have missed the glaringly obvious solution...

"There's an app for that". Goes by the name of "any modern browser", just enable its version of click-to-play (or for slightly older browsers - Lookin' at you, no-Chrome-before-Honeycomb, just run your favorite version of noscript/flashblock/etc.)

You don't need to give every website you visit its own little chunk of your phone just because it asks for one. "Have you tried our app yet?" - No. No, I haven't, and won't until your marketing department stops treating my phone as just one more way to track me (ie, never).

Re:Stupid design, appalling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47824951)

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

What? You think it's a step backward that when you want the satellite layer you click on the picture, but when you want the terrain layer you have to type 'Terrain' into the map search bar, click on the result, and have it not really display properly? You think it's a step backward that it's unresponsive for the first 5-10 seconds every time you load a map as it does...something with no notification of what's holding it up or how long it will take?

Personally, I love these changes. Reminds me of MapQuest with more features.

FFB (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47823311)

That's Fuck Face Book

Is there any way to stop auto-play? (1)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | about three weeks ago | (#47823337)

I use Chrome and Firefox and autoplay is driving me nuts. Is there an auto-play killer out there?

Re:Is there any way to stop auto-play? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47823351)

Noscript of course

Re:Is there any way to stop auto-play? (4, Informative)

Tukz (664339) | about three weeks ago | (#47823521)

You can disable it you know.

Settings -> Videos -> Auto-play Videos [off].

Re:Is there any way to stop auto-play? (1)

c (8461) | about two weeks ago | (#47823761)

You can disable it you know.

Settings -> Videos -> Auto-play Videos [off].

Facebook has this interesting habit of reverting settings to default when the app updates. I don't think it's every time, but often enough to surprise someone.

They can remember that time you Liked and then promptly Unliked that stupid fart joke, but try to get them to remember the settings you explicitly set...

Re:Is there any way to stop auto-play? (1)

Tukz (664339) | about two weeks ago | (#47823793)

My Facebook app on my phone is still set to "off", so mine hasn't reset.

But since OP mentioned 2 browsers, my instructions was for how to disable it in a browser, and not the mobile app.

Re:Is there any way to stop auto-play? (1)

c (8461) | about two weeks ago | (#47823865)

My Facebook app on my phone is still set to "off", so mine hasn't reset.

Could be a Cyanogenmod thing, then. I won't use the Facebook app without some form of App Ops to lock it down, so I can't say for sure what it does otherwise.

But since OP mentioned 2 browsers, my instructions was for how to disable it in a browser, and not the mobile app.

Ah, sorry. The OP didn't show up (non-Beta comments with ignore threads have interesting filter behaviours) and the article *is* about cellphones...

Re:Is there any way to stop auto-play? (1)

night_flyer (453866) | about two weeks ago | (#47824011)

and people access the facebook with their cellphones using browsers like chrome and firefox...

Re:Is there any way to stop auto-play? (1)

c (8461) | about two weeks ago | (#47824959)

and people access the facebook with their cellphones using browsers like chrome and firefox...

Yes, and I did this until I switched to CM, but I strongly suspect those people are a distinct minority.

Re:Is there any way to stop auto-play? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47823777)

I use flashblock. It creates a placeholder for a video and if you want to view it you just have to click on it. Some sites create a transparent layer over the video elemet, in that case you cant click on the video placeholder, to view the video you have to add the site to the Flashblock's Exeption list (under addon preferences).

I never realized how bad it was (4, Insightful)

rebelwarlock (1319465) | about three weeks ago | (#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:I never realized how bad it was (0)

kamapuaa (555446) | about three weeks ago | (#47823369)

It's that cheap/easy in the US too, just people whine about it. I get the cheapest and it's 1 gig for $30/month, and after that it throttles down, it doesn't charge extra.

And realistically, I can't see people using more than a couple megs of data on low-quality Facebook videos.

Re:I never realized how bad it was (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47823511)

And realistically, I can't see people using more than a couple megs of data on low-quality Facebook videos.

Realistically, those videos aren't "low-quality".

And realistically, it's over halfway through 2014. The desktop isn't dead. Oh, far from it. It's merely laying on a bed, shaking constantly, in horrible agony, and will never stand again. Life protip: The average person uses their cellphone in a similar manner to which the average Slashdot nerd uses their computer.

Your reality doesn't match up with the rest of the world's, alas.

Re:I never realized how bad it was (4, Funny)

Feces's Edge (3801473) | about three weeks ago | (#47823535)

The average person uses their cellphone in a similar manner to which the average Slashdot nerd uses their computer.

The average person programs on their cellphone? That sounds awful, and in more ways than one.

Re: I never realized how bad it was (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47823753)

I consume content on my phone. I create things on my desktop. I can see which behavior marketing shills would like to encourage, but people who only use mobile devices are either located in undeveloped areas where that's pretty much their only option, or they're shallow first world idiots whose opinions aren't worth listening to.

Re:I never realized how bad it was (1)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about two weeks ago | (#47823843)

That is expensive.

A quick hunt finds 1GB in the UK costing $12.45

$30 would buy you unlimited data, unlimited texts and 2000 minutes of phone time to most networks (ie not premium rate).

And realistically, I can't see people using more than a couple megs of data on low-quality Facebook videos.

Then you must be blind.

Re: I never realized how bad it was (1)

Time_Ngler (564671) | about three weeks ago | (#47823423)

I live in Taiwan too. I'm on the Taiwan mobile prepaid plan which is 2gb for 300 nt (around 10 us dollars). Can i ask how much you're paying?

Re: I never realized how bad it was (1)

rebelwarlock (1319465) | about three weeks ago | (#47823459)

I didn't factor in prepaid, so you have a cheaper plan than I do. Mine is from Fetnet, at 599.

Re:I never realized how bad it was (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about three weeks ago | (#47823433)

In civilized countries, there is no cap, only a soft cap after which bandwidth is slightly throttled.

Re:I never realized how bad it was (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47823465)

That's still a cap.

Re:I never realized how bad it was (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47823463)

Have you ever seen documentaries where poor people have to spend hours every day getting clean water,

You see these guys on the begging tv ads all the time and I just wonder 'why don't they move closer to the water?'

Re:I never realized how bad it was (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about two weeks ago | (#47824047)

Because getting flooded every few years is an even bigger hassle? Because they live near to the good crop land which they also have to go to and from every day? Because having all the people and their animals near is makes the water not clean? Because real estate is more expensive near the water?

I have no idea. But I'm sure there's a reason...

Re:I never realized how bad it was (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47825037)

They're too busy making more babies.

Metered mobile data, so 2000's. (1)

upside (574799) | about three weeks ago | (#47823619)

Unlimited 4G data for 34,50 euros / month.

People like you ARE the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47823817)

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?

FUCK YOU WITH A BRICK.

Families get bankrupted. Basics like food, education and medical care which families in "developed" countries struggle to budget for end up lost to this kind of shit. Not everyone is tech savvy or aware enough of the situation in advance to disable their autoplay. This is a ploy by multiple large companies to SCREW people.

Re:People like you ARE the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47823991)

if they are getting bankrupted by data overages on their smartphone, then maybe they shouldn't have a smartphone in the first place...

Re:I never realized how bad it was (1)

tomhath (637240) | about two weeks ago | (#47823869)

I don't see where is says people complaining about extra charges are from the US. I'm from the US and get unlimited data and phone calls for a reasonable price.

Re:I never realized how bad it was (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47824455)

But aren't you not supposed to drink the tap water straight in Taiwan? Always have had to boil it.

how about .... (0, Troll)

thephydes (727739) | about three weeks ago | (#47823361)

people with smartphones take responsibility for how THEY use them.

Re:how about .... (5, Insightful)

Mr Z (6791) | about three weeks ago | (#47823415)

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.

Re:how about .... (1)

Mr Z (6791) | about three weeks ago | (#47823435)

Ok, as explained elsewhere, this isn't autoplay per se but rather auto preload. That is, the video consumes bandwidth with no outward indication it's doing so. Again, do explain how the miracle of personal responsibility solves this.

Re:how about .... (0)

bickerdyke (670000) | about three weeks ago | (#47823541)

Ok, so you're saying "never launch the Facebook app" is the only responsible choice?

If you have a limited data-plan, using apps that autoplay/preload huge amount of data is irresponsible.

The sane choice of course would be for the facebook app to limit mobile data usage by culling data-heavy features as video autoplay. At least in a market where most users have data caps on their mobile plans. Or have it optional. If it's opt-in or opt-out could still be determined by the current data-plan prices.

It's worth remembering that not using the facebook app is supposed to hit facebook harder than yourself.

facebook is no human right and neither are mobile videos. And if you use your phone to watch video streaming, you should have a data-plan that matches your online.usage.

Re:how about .... (2)

Camael (1048726) | about two weeks ago | (#47823623)

If you have a limited data-plan, using apps that autoplay/preload huge amount of data is irresponsible.

And you are assuming that all Facebook users have the knowledge, means and expertise to determine which are their "apps that autoplay/preload huge amount of data" or even know their data problems are caused by "apps that autoplay/preload huge amount of data" in the first place.

The average users of Facebook include grandmothers, hollywood idols, truckers, senators - people who may not be technologically inclined.

Come on, be fair.

Re:how about .... (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about two weeks ago | (#47823729)

Absolutely right.

On the other hand, we still require these not-technologically inclined people to select and sign-up for a data-plan. The proper selection already requires them to be available to connect "seeing videos on cellphone" with "huge data volume required"

So if an app starts to play video, one should know that you're going towards your data limit at bullet-speed. And who else but user (and cellphone provider) know where that limit is? That information is not availble to the facebook app and so that descision has to be made by the user.

I know we can't and shouldn't expect that from facebook-app-user Joe Sixpack, but we already expected him to estimate his bandwidth and monthly data usage when signing up for a data plan. Sp you either can expect an informed descision about video loading or you need to start way earlier.

And for the sake of the argument imagine a good salesperson who is not intrested in just selling the most expensive option and asks "Are you planning to watch mobile video on your phone?". If the user answers "no" here and suddenly sees videos on ths phone, he should remember that his plan may be a bit too small for that.

Re:how about .... (1)

Mr Z (6791) | about two weeks ago | (#47825483)

What about an app that burns the bandwidth of playing a video as part of its 'preload', but never provides feedback that it's doing so? Is the user supposed to be clairvoyant?

Re:how about .... (2)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about two weeks ago | (#47823713)

> The sane choice of course would be for the facebook app to limit mobile data usage by culling data-heavy features as video autoplay

Don't you mean "The sane choice would be to drop FaceBook" ? The service, and its encouragement of careless video and image uploading, is extraordinarily and unnecessarily bandwidth heavy, especially with the constant pre-caching of both advertising and facebook poster content one has no _intention_ of ever actually selecting, but which winds up pre-cached because you opened someone's web page to read their post or check a social announcement.

Re:how about .... (1)

Mr Z (6791) | about two weeks ago | (#47825463)

And where on the label does the Facebook app say how much data it's going to use?

And how about the fact that for a long time, the FB app was fine, and then a change that FB pushed out to folks surprised them later only after they were using it?

It's worth remembering that not using the facebook app is supposed to hit facebook harder than yourself.

That's only true if there's a wide-scale boycott. Otherwise, network effects suggest you're wrong. It's like arguing "Not using Windows is supposed to hit Microsoft harder than yourself." BS. Microsoft hasn't felt a thing since I switched to other platforms years ago. I, however, have had to deal with incompatibilities and quirkiness. For the vast majority of users it never made sense to switch from Windows and it still doesn't, and the reason why is network effects.

Your arguments remind me of the 'Countepoint' guy from Airplane. [youtube.com]

The issue here is that most smart phone plans make you, the user, responsible for paying for the total amount of bandwidth consumed, but the phone and the apps don't give you a good mechanism to allow you to act on that responsibility in a meaningful way. Saying "Well, then, don't use it" is unhelpful and unrealistic.

Re:how about .... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about two weeks ago | (#47823897)

Ok, so you're saying "never launch the Facebook app" is the only responsible choice?

To be honest, that was the case long before this auto-playing video situation (and it goes equally for accessing Facebook via the website or any other means, too).

Re:how about .... (1)

fuzznutz (789413) | about two weeks ago | (#47825595)

I use the Tinfoil app for Android. It's for the paranoid inside everyone. I seriously doubt they will ever preload anything.

Re:how about .... (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about two weeks ago | (#47823941)

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

The only thing wrong here is the assumption that the news articles have any relation to people's knowledge or usage on a given matter. I'm sure the newspaper would run a front page headline saying "THE SKY IS BLUE" if they could sensationalise it and some how make it look like it's disadvantaging the poor common folk.

Re:how about .... (1)

wbo (1172247) | about two weeks ago | (#47825243)

(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 have an iPad and and Android phone and on both devices when the app was updated with the autoplay feature the app displayed an alert the first time to was launched post-update that talked about the autoplay feature and explained exactly how to turn it off in the settings of the app.

In my opinion, Facebook is not really the one to blame here because although the default is to autoplay videos, users were clearly informed when the feature was added and given clear instructions on how to change the setting.

Re:how about .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47823601)

That's exactly what the complaint is about. The Facebook app is nearly impossible to control - there is no way to stop the video. This makes it hard for the owner to take responsibility.

Misleading wording. This is not autoplay. (0)

zephvark (1812804) | about three weeks ago | (#47823371)

What the article is referring to as "autoplay" is actually preloading. The video is not playing on its own, it's just being cached in case you want to click on it. This could certainly be a problem for people on limited data plans. It is not nearly the same kind of awfulness as genuine autoplay, where the video starts up without asking permission.

Re:Misleading wording. This is not autoplay. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47823407)

No, the Facebook (mis)feature truly is autoplay. The video starts playing (without sound) until you click on it, at which point it goes full-screen and enables sound.

Re:Misleading wording. This is not autoplay. (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about two weeks ago | (#47824949)

Am I the only person that likes this? So many videos should be soundless, but have stupid commentary or music.

Half the videos I watch are the auto-play only ones now.

Re:Misleading wording. This is not autoplay. (2)

Mr Z (6791) | about three weeks ago | (#47823427)

On my BB10 (which I otherwise quite enjoy), many websites will autoplay video. I'll click on an article to read it, and then 10-15 seconds later (sometimes faster, sometimes slower), it'll freeze and force me into a full screen video due to autoplay. Sometimes I can get it to stop quickly and can go back to the article, but quite often I just swipe to make the video not-full-screen and immediately close the page.

That gap between opening the page and getting hijacked by the video appears to be buffering time. That burns bandwidth my connection before I even get a chance to know it might be happening. And, as you say, it's a special kind of awfulness. I'd love to disable this autoplay, but there doesn't seem to be any option for this. (FWIW, disabling Flash doesn't do it.)

At least FB has a setting where you can disable this. The fact it's taken multiple 'news' articles on multiple websites to get the word out, though, hints that FB's roll out of the feature is antisocial at best. If nothing else, they should have defaulted it to preloading only if it was operating over WiFi.

Re:Misleading wording. This is not autoplay. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47823453)

No true. Many sites, including FB, are now autoplaying video posts instead of leaving the image with a click-to-play function. It's a complete pain.

Misleading wording. This is not autoplay. (2)

DRJlaw (946416) | about three weeks ago | (#47823509)

What the article is referring to as "autoplay" is actually preloading.

Odd... because FaceBook calls it "auto-play." Right in the obscure setting in their own app that admittedly allows it to be turned off or set to Wi-Fi only.

The video is not playing on its own, it's just being cached in case you want to click on it.

Odd... because the videos in the newsfeed will play without anyone clicking on them. You merely have to scroll through the newsfeed and land near a video.

This could certainly be a problem for people on limited data plans.

Which are the majority... it's well known that you have to have truly worked to keep a grandfathered unlimited data plan since the 3G-4G transition.

It is not nearly the same kind of awfulness as genuine autoplay, where the video starts up without asking permission.

Since you appear to have no actual experience with the FaceBook mobile app, you'll forgive me for telling you to STFU concerning the relative awfulness of your fictional app versus the actual app. I mean really... you were so certain of how the current app functions that you thought nobody who actually used it would call you out on these 'minor' discrepancies?

Fuck All Facebook (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47823375)

And fuck all the Facebook wannabes and all the fuckwits that make all that heinous shit so popular. You are fucking up my Internets and you need to fucking stop.

Network shareholding in FB etc (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47823439)

I have to wonder how much stock in FB etc the Cell networks have. Influencing the likes of FB do set this as a default is a win-win for both of them.

Wrong Target (1)

tstur (38065) | about three weeks ago | (#47823469)

The underlying problem is the perpetual screwing that US mobile carriers inflict on customers. How they can defend the devolution of options is perplexing. No great alternatives so we must pay to play. I have lived outside the US for 6 years (while still paying for my US Verizon 5-phone family plan) and from Cyprus to Germany to South Korea the mobile plans are better priced, more robust, and reasonably fair to the consumer.

The App has a setting for that (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about three weeks ago | (#47823475)

The Facebook has a setting to disable auto-play or make it wifi-only.

Instagram? (1)

darkain (749283) | about three weeks ago | (#47823479)

I love how the first comparison with Facebook is to Instagram...

I think someone needs a reminder as to who owns Instagram: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I... [wikipedia.org]

a scam (2)

ruir (2709173) | about three weeks ago | (#47823483)

Lets face it. Wifi data plans are a big scam. Operators do not want you to use data plans because they want to screw you with the calls, and do not want 1) people giving up voice and using only voip 2) killing all the revenue on international calls 3) often they are in bed with your local cable operator, or worse, they are an arm of it. For all those that have no alternative than using mobile Internet for PC connectivity, it is quite simple to install Flash+facebook+adblocking software to save on you bill. Nevertheless, it is worth to point out that a 1GB plan wont get you nowhere, and it is really not enough on this days. Back in here, I only use wifi, but then I have wifi at home and at work, and also we have a huge FON infra-structure here, where we can pretty much find a FON hotspot nearby.

Re:a scam (1)

ruir (2709173) | about three weeks ago | (#47823485)

Pardon, mobile data scams are a big scam...

Canceled my account long ago (2, Insightful)

rholtzjr (928771) | about three weeks ago | (#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.

Re:Canceled my account long ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47825097)

If you and people like you knew how to spell Facebook properly, your complains would been see by more people as they'd come up in Facebook searches. No one searches for Farcebook.

Good Morning, Vietnam! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47823553)

How does someone hang himself with a belt? I can see one end, but the other? I heard this was a hit.

Facebook Zero (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47823561)

This is the kind of thing that conveniently makes the case for anti-neutrality by making products like Facebook Zero [wikipedia.org] look like a good deal.

I doubt that anyone at facebook or any other company explicitly designed their apps this way in order to promote "zero" services, but at the same time I think their interest in pushing facebook zero is a disincentive to correcting the problem.

3GB extra data usage per month! (5, Interesting)

scrib (1277042) | about three weeks ago | (#47823583)

I started a shared data pool plan for my family and my brother's usage was estimated at about 2GB per month. A couple weeks into the billing cycle I checked usage and my brother had used MORE data than the other FIVE of us combined, and was on track to use over 5GB! We talked about it and it turned out he had the new facebook app installed and complained that the videos had started autoplaying. He found it annoying. We did a quick search and found that the DEFAULT setting is to autoplay videos as you scroll past them, regardless of the connection type.

We changed the setting to "Wi-Fi Only" (or never) and nothing else about his usage. His average daily bandwidh went from 150MB to 50MB.

Facebook's new, annoying, default setting was on track to add 3GB PER MONTH of data usage! (30 days * 100MB)

We were lucky to be on a new plan with 6 people that I was monitoring to make sure we had the right data plan. An extra 3GB of data sent to a casual users ought to earn Facebook some kickbacks from cellphone providers!

Re:3GB extra data usage per month! (1)

rwv (1636355) | about two weeks ago | (#47824335)

An extra 3GB of data sent to a casual users ought to earn Facebook some kickbacks from cellphone providers!

So maybe that's their new business model? Deliver content, earn kickbacks? This actually seems much more lucrative than being an advertizing company since cellular phone companies have been clamping down on Monthly Allowances for the past few years.

News At 11... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47823675)

Idiots who use Facebook are having their idiot wallets emptied. No change there.

Anyone who uses Facebook is retarded. Slashdot articles on Facebook are retarded.

Pro tip for the utterly clueless: Stop using Farcebook.

Don't forget Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47823731)

One of Google Chrome's options is: Predict network actions to improve page load performance.

Intentional (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47823799)

I've long believed this type of thing (autoplay, etc) was being done intentionally as a means of driving up the cell phone bills. With data caps arbitrarily low, it makes for a potential extra revenue stream for the carrier. A little hush-hush kickback to the developers, and cigars and brandy for all!

"Blame" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47823847)

MoneySavingExpert is like an offshoot of the Daily Mail, where the dullard nouveau riche can flock to learn the rudiments of finance and pass judgment on everyone not as "savvy" as them - IOW, a place where people find out how big businesses try to trick them, then blame the ignorant rather than the companies which actually choose to misrepresent.

Once again, the point is missed, isn't it? Facebook's not "to blame". Your browser makes a request for the images. It doesn't have to. The problem is YOU, the user, relying on a complex machine which does all sorts of things you don't understand in order to deliver you your daily fix of distraction.

tomblur (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about two weeks ago | (#47823911)

tumblr app autoplays gifs, so to speak (previously it just showed a preview and you clicked on it to see it) thus making it useless for two reasons.

First, it eats throuh gigs of data in no time. More importantly, 4g can't keep up with it and the fast scrolling you may want to do. Some clueless ass designed that one in a vacuum.

Be careful. Updates might re-enable autoplay (3, Informative)

zizzybaloobah (1021731) | about two weeks ago | (#47823935)

I participate in the beta for the Android app. We've had several updates that re-enabled that feature. smdh. It boggles my mind that not only did FB think this was an important feature missing from their application, but so important that it needed to be enabled by default. smdh again.

Blame? (0)

gelfling (6534) | about two weeks ago | (#47823949)

Duuurrrrrrrrrppppppp. Don't be a tard tard.

Why blame Facebook? (1)

guruevi (827432) | about two weeks ago | (#47824487)

The blame lies not with FB but with providers artificially limiting how much data your device can consume on a technically irrelevant time scale for profit.

1G of data is enough for ~1 hour of streaming video. So that means that you can easily burn through your allotment in a day or two for regular usage.

It's not like they can't provide you with the bandwidth, the bandwidth is not what's being measured after all. And they all collude with each other to provide the same crappy service.

Re:Why blame Facebook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47824723)

The blame lies not with FB but with providers artificially limiting how much data your device can consume on a technically irrelevant time scale for profit.

1G of data is enough for ~1 hour of streaming video. So that means that you can easily burn through your allotment in a day or two for regular usage.

It's not like they can't provide you with the bandwidth, the bandwidth is not what's being measured after all. And they all collude with each other to provide the same crappy service.

I would go a bit further and blame the users' stupidity for thinking that they are so important or are so desperate for attention that they honestly believe they HAVE to be connected all the time. It's asinine. Every link in the chain makes money off of you and you just keep paying and putting stupid shit online for all to see and FB et al to make money off of. Good job! Sorry, blame lies with stupid.

P.S. That's a general "you" above, not specific to anyone.

What's even the POINT of the autoplay? (1)

s0nicfreak (615390) | about two weeks ago | (#47825619)

If I am actually interested in the video, I have to go back to the beginning. And sometimes the humor or entertainment value is ruined by me seeing later parts on mute. It's so much more annoying than just starting videos I'm interested in, and has resulted in me actually viewing a lot less videos on facebook. Unless they want to kill peoples' data limit and get worthless plays to videos, I don't see the point.
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