Beware of Auto-play and Data Charges

Thumbs DOWN on auto-play.

Thumbs DOWN on auto-play.

This story has been making the rounds, but if you use a smart phone, we wanted to make sure you’ve seen it. MoneySavingExpert.com first reported that Facebook now defaults all videos to “auto-play.” If you scroll very quickly past videos in your newsfeed it shouldn’t be a problem, but apparently if you pause even briefly over a video, the software assumes that you want it to start. Even if all you meant to do was look at pictures of your grandchildren, that can add up to some nasty data charges.

MoneySavingExpert.com offers these steps to turn off the auto-play feature:

    • Apple: Go to your phone’s Settings > click Facebook > click Settings > Select ‘Auto-play only on Wi-fi’, or ‘Off’.
    • Android: Android told us Facebook app functions can be controlled through the handset and through the Facebook app itself. When we tried it on a few devices in the MoneySavingExpert.com office, we found the following steps worked via the Facebook app itself: Go to your Facebook account Settings > click App Settings > then within General Settings select ‘Auto-play only on Wifi’, or ‘Off.’

We would add that it’s a good idea to double-check all sites you visit frequently on a device in which you do not incur data charges to make sure that nothing auto-plays. (And, um, yes, this is why you should always avoid porn sites.)

As you’ve likely surmised, MoneySavingExpert.com is a very useful site. It is based in the UK, however, so much of the advice on local services or regulated industries may not apply, but more general information on consumer products and services should still be of value.