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

Unleashing the power of AI initiatives with the right infrastructure

What key infrastructure requirements are needed to implement AI effectively?

Download now

Achieve today. Plan tomorrow. Making the hybrid multi-cloud journey

A Veritas webinar on implementing a hybrid multi-cloud strategy

Download now

A buyer’s guide for cloud-based phone solutions

Finding the right phone system for your modern business

Download now

The workers' experience report

How technology can spark motivation, enhance productivity and strengthen security

Download now

Recommended

Big tech companies put political donations on hold following Capitol riots
Business strategy

Big tech companies put political donations on hold following Capitol riots

12 Jan 2021
The IT Pro Podcast: The power of disinformation
social media

The IT Pro Podcast: The power of disinformation

11 Dec 2020
Justice Department sues Facebook for discriminating against US workers
Policy & legislation

Justice Department sues Facebook for discriminating against US workers

7 Dec 2020
CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and Google face Senate hearing
Policy & legislation

CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and Google face Senate hearing

28 Oct 2020

Most Popular

How to move Windows 10 from your old hard drive to SSD
operating systems

How to move Windows 10 from your old hard drive to SSD

21 Jan 2021
Hackers are actively exploiting three Apple iOS flaws
exploits

Hackers are actively exploiting three Apple iOS flaws

27 Jan 2021
16 ways to speed up your laptop
Laptops

16 ways to speed up your laptop

26 Jan 2021