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Facebook is testing News Feed video with autoplay sound

So far the tests are only in Australia, and let's hope they never make it here

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
August 23, 2016 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/46e5

Updated with confirmation from Facebook

I remember when it first came out that Facebook was going to put autoplay video ads onto the News Feed, and how horrified I was. I had an image in my head of videos starting up, making a huge amount of noise. That would have been enough for me to say goodbye to Facebook forever. 

Instead, the company did the smart thing and automatically muted those videos, so they wouldn't make a sound unless you wanted them to. And everything was fine. Until now, when all of that seems like might come crashing down.

Facebook is currently testing out autoplay video that will automatically play with sound, it has been confirmed to VatorNews.

Luckily for most of us, the tests are being run in Australia (I did say "most of us." Sorry, Australians!) on both ads, and Facebook live videos, on mobile devices.

There will be two types of tests being run: one where sound will automatically play if the user has enabled sound on their device, and one where they tap the icon to play sound.

When people in the test scroll through News Feed, they will see a small icon on the bottom right-hand side of videos. Tapping this icon enables people to turn sound on or off for the duration of their News Feed “session.” People in the test will also see a pop-up message with education about the new experience and controls.

Luckily, the sound will only play if the phone's volume is on (I keep mine on vibrate at all times, so I'd be free and clear no matter what), and can be easily disabled by switching sound to 'always off' in Facebook settings.

"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," Facebook said in a statement provided to VatorNews. "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."

So why would Facebook want to do something like this? Something that most likely a large portion of people would dislike? The company called it "one of several tests we're running as we work to improve the video experience for people on Facebook." 

That last part is telling. Video has become extremely important to Facebook. The company has made a big bet on it, and two types in particular:360-degree and live streamingIn April, on a conference call, following the release of the company's Q1 earnings report, Mark Zuckerberg hinted at newer types of video that could be coming along soon.

"We're at the beginning of a golden age of online video. Video isn't just a single kind of content. We think it's a medium that allows people to interact in a lot of new ways. So that's why in addition to normal Internet video, we're also focusing on more interactive video experiences like Live and 360 video," he said.

"I also think that there are going to be a lot more interactive forms of video than just Live and 360 like we're talking about now. And I think that this extends not just to video but for all the different types of media and audiences that we're serving. So we're very excited about continuing to do our work to help unlock all the expression and connection that people want to do."

Facebook, however, is starting to fall behind. Ot was actually passed in daily video views earlier this year, as Snapchat reached 10 billion, and Facebook remains at eight billion (the number has not been officially revised since November of last year, so it could have more, even if it isn't saying).

Perhaps Facebook is under the impression that it will get more people to watch if it can grab their attention with sound. I contend it will do exactly the opposite: get people to turn the app off altogether.

This news was firsted reported by Mashable on Monday.

(Image source: occultum.net)

  • When people in the test scroll through News Feed, they will see a small icon on the bottom right-hand side of videos. Tapping this icon enables people to turn sound on or off for the duration of their News Feed “session.”
  • Sound will only play in News Feed if a person's phone volume is turned on, and can be easily disabled by switching sound to 'always off' in Facebook settings.
  • We will be running two variations of this test - one where sound will automatically play if you've enabled sound on your device, and one where you tap the icon to play sound.
  • People in the test will see a pop-up message with education about the new experience and controls.

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