The anti-social network

Barry Collins wants an ASBO placed on Facebook’s latest mobile ‘feature’

Don't worry. I haven't lost my mind. The editors have not gone on strike and started pasting random nonsense into my column not that anyone would notice anyway.

What you're seeing above is what Facebook has become, except the second part the really loud, really shouty bit in BLOCK CAPITALS well, imagine that blasting out of a speaker, like one of those crappy novelty birthday cards. That's what Facebook has become.

A couple of weeks ago, Facebook took the infuriating decision to make its mobile app play videos with sound automatically. So, if you're sitting on the bus, in the doctor's waiting room or anywhere in public and casually open the Facebook app, you and everyone else around you will be subject to a random audio assault of whatever appears in your timeline. Adverts, football clips, prank videos or the James Corden Carpool Karaoke quoted earlier, which blasted out of my phone whenI fired up Facebook this morning.

Facebook, of course, pleads that it's doing us a favour. "We're always working to make Facebook a better place to watch videos," claims the pop-up message introducing this rotten feature. "That's why videos now play with the sound on automatically."

Except nobody else thinks this makes life better. Autoplaying ads have become such a nuisance that Apple now blocks them from playing in the latest version of its Safari browser for Mac OS. The Coalition For Better Ads also rails against autoplaying video with sound. "This ad experience is especially disruptive because it catches the reader off guard and often compels them to quickly close the window or tab in order to stop the sound," the Coalition states, "especially if they are on their mobile device and in a public place, where such noise can be a public nuisance and personal embarrassment." Guess who's a member of the Coalition? I'll give you a clue: it starts with an 'F' and ends in 'acebook'.

Autoplaying noisy videos is a feature literally nobody asked for except the advertisers themselves. Facebook will have studied the metrics and seen that autoplaying videos have a far higher 'engagement' rate than those that require the user to push a Play button. Now you'll have advertisers and other video producers cramming the first few seconds of their videos with shouty audio to make sure they attract your attention before your thumb flicks them off the screen.

The only thing that prevented me from uninstalling Facebook the moment this feature was activated was that there's an option to switch it off. On Android, open the menu in the top right-corner of the Facebook app, scroll all the way down to App Settings and make sure 'Videos in News Feed start with sound' is switched off. Autoplay videos haven't appeared in iOS yet, perhaps because Apple doesn't tolerate such nonsense.

Facebook is fast becoming the anti-social network and this feature will certainly cost it a few friends.

This article first appeared in Web User. Main image credit: Bigstock

Featured Resources

Preparing for AI-enabled cyber attacks

MIT technology review insights

Download now

Cloud storage performance analysis

Storage performance and value of the IONOS cloud Compute Engine

Download now

The Forrester Wave: Top security analytics platforms

The 11 providers that matter most and how they stack up

Download now

Harness data to reinvent your organisation

Build a data strategy for the next wave of cloud innovation

Download now

Recommended

Senator wants social media companies held liable for spreading anti-vax lies
social media

Senator wants social media companies held liable for spreading anti-vax lies

23 Jul 2021
Facebook asks FTC chair to recuse herself from antitrust case
social media

Facebook asks FTC chair to recuse herself from antitrust case

14 Jul 2021
Social media companies vow to reduce abuse of women online
Security

Social media companies vow to reduce abuse of women online

1 Jul 2021
FCC commissioner calls for big tech to help bridge digital divide
digital divide

FCC commissioner calls for big tech to help bridge digital divide

2 Jun 2021

Most Popular

RMIT to be first Australian university to implement AWS supercomputing facility
high-performance computing (HPC)

RMIT to be first Australian university to implement AWS supercomputing facility

28 Jul 2021
Samsung Galaxy S21 5G review: A rose-tinted experience
Mobile Phones

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G review: A rose-tinted experience

14 Jul 2021
Zyxel USG Flex 200 review: A timely and effective solution
Security

Zyxel USG Flex 200 review: A timely and effective solution

28 Jul 2021