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Facebook blamed for driving up cellphone bills, but it's not alone

colinneagle (2544914) writes | about a month and a half ago

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colinneagle (2544914) 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.

In the first half of 2014, Instagram saw a 25% increase in usage, while Vine usage grew by 27%, according to a study released by GlobalWebIndex in May. The mobile app that saw the most growth in usage over that period was Snapchat, which also allows users to send and view videos over 3G and 4G wireless connections; Snapchat usage grew 67% in that period, according to the study.

So while Facebook’s auto-play feature is likely to have a hand in an epidemic of cellphone data overages, it’s just one culprit among many new mobile apps that are embracing video, all of which happen to be popular among teenagers, who aren't likely to know or care about how auto-play video features might affect their parents’ wallets."

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