Many people know that keeping track of their mobile data usage helps them avoid an unpleasant bill shock at the end of the month. However, there’s a new phenomenon that has caught out some smartphone owners with surging mobile data costs. Facebook’s auto-play video feature has been identified as a common cause of bill shock for some smartphone users, according to Tech Times.
Facebook’s auto-play video feature has had many users exceeding their mobile data plan limits. The feature places videos in users’ newsfeeds and starts playing as soon as the user pauses on the video. Videos don’t automatically play if the user scrolls through the newsfeed, but they will start automatically even if the user does not click play.
The auto-play video feature was identified as the main culprit by popular blog MoneySavingExpert.com. Users initially were not aware of why their mobile data bills had jumped, but eventually they realised that it was the Facebook auto-play video that was causing a drain on their data allowance.
One user, Caroline Greenhaigh, said that it was the first time she’d even exceeded her data limit. Once she turned off videos on Facebook, her data usage went right down. Steve Nowottny, editor of MoneySavingExpert.com, says that it’s worrying that Facebook allows these auto-play videos by default. Users are more likely to exceed their plan limits without knowing, in the process incurring expensive excess data payments.
The prevalence of smartphones, high-speed mobile data speeds, viral videos, and trends such as the Ice Bucket Challenge have made it even easier for users to exceed their data limits without noticing. The Ice Bucket Challenge, which has raised millions of dollars for the ALS Association in the past few weeks, has seen millions of users share their ice bucket videos online in a bid to encourage more people to donate to the cause.
Facebook acknowledges that its mobile app will automatically play videos on phones that are connected to 3G and 4G networks. The auto-play features is also enabled by default on desktop browsers that are running on computers connected to Wi-Fi. Facebook notes that users can avoid excessive data usage by quickly scrolling past the videos.
If you want to avoid paying extra on your mobile data, switch off the auto-play feature in your Facebook account. If you use an iPhone, you can switch off auto-play on Wi-Fi by going to your iPhone settings.
Android users can turn off the feature by going to their app setting or through their Facebook accounts. Desktop users can go directly to their Facebook account setting and switch off auto-play videos.
It’s a good idea to check your mobile data plan, and make sure that you understand the applicable terms and conditions. Many providers offer text alerts that notify you when you reach certain data-usage thresholds or when you’re close to your monthly limit. To avoid paying extra for data, make sure you sign up for these or log into your account management settings (with your service provider) to monitor your usage.