Bad news for our friends Down Under: your Facebook experience may become much more obnoxious shortly. Facebook is testing out a new feature where videos that autoplay will now start blasting sound as well rather than being muted by default. This feature is only one possible path for videos on the popular social network, but it seems like an unfortunate extension of a troubling trend.
Engadget reported that Facebook is running various tests with video autoplay options for Australian users. One of the options starts autoplaying videos without sound, but presents a big button letting users mute or unmute them. This sounds reasonable enough. Another one, however, starts playing audio as soon as the video starts. It’s not clear whether the videos shut up once users scroll past them.
As a work-in-progress, the feature is probably not here to say. Facebook replied to Engadget’s query about the new system:
“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,” a representative stated. Users can turn off this feature in Settings if they find it obnoxious, and Facebook does not seem to have any immediate plans to implement it in a widespread fashion.
Autoplaying videos on the Facebook news feed has been a controversial move from its inception, since Facebook enables this option by default, and it can eat through limited data plan with an abandon that borders on reckless. Still, Facebook is leaning hard into being a video platform, between features like PS4 sharing integration and Facebook Live streaming.
Facebook autoplaying audio may not make it into the big leagues, but it’s only a matter of time before the company does something to make sure you see — and consume — more video on its platform. Hopefully you’ll have enough mobile data to be ready for it.