Facebook Risks User Revolt Thanks To Auto-Playing News Feed Videos With Audio

As the world's most popular social media platform, Facebook is heavily invested in technologies that amp the experience, one of which is video. You've probably noticed an abundance of notifications for live videos, after which point they become pre-recorded posts. Videos are becoming a central part of Facebook, though Facebook must be careful not to make them intrusive, which it's at risk of doing by expanding its autoplay function.

As your scroll through your news feed on Facebook, videos automatically play if you linger long enough for them to load. That's a nifty function—it saves you a click—but the reason it works without feeling obnoxious is because it doesn't automatically blast audio through your mobile phone's speakers for you and anyone within earshot to hear. That's changing for some users.


Facebook is testing autoplay videos with sound in Australia. It's conducting  the tests in different ways—one group of users will hear sound right away, assuming they have sound turned enabled on their mobile device, while another group will have access to a icon on the bottom right of the video that mutes the audio.

"We're running a small test in news feed where people can choose whether they want to watch videos with sound on from the start. For people in this test who do not want sound to play, they can switch it off in Settings or directly on the video itself," a Facebook spokesperson told Mashable.

"This is one of several tests we're running as we work to improve the video experience for people on Facebook," the spokesperson added.

We can't imagine the reaction to these tests are going to be positive. It's one thing to be by yourself scrolling through Facebook and having audio piped through your handset as a video plays, but it's quite another when you're in public. The problem is exacerbated if a video features a hyperactive personality who's loud and/or vulgar.

Facebook didn't say if it plans to expand its tests to other territories. The good news is it isn't catching users off guard—groups participating in the tests see a pop-up message letting them know how to use the controls that are available to them.