With videos ever-more prevalent on social media these days, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all auto-play these videos as you scroll past. It’s meant to be a matter of convenience, making it unnecessary to click play to view multimedia on your feed.
While making it convenient to watch video, in some cases it subjects us to forcibly view content that we otherwise wouldn’t watch. A good example of this is the shooting and murder of a reporter and her cameraman on live TV. While Facebook and Twitter quickly suspended the alleged killer’s accounts (where he shared the video himself), it was not quick enough to stop the video from spreading through other means.
Thousands if not millions of social media users were subjected to the horrendous video within hours, most by just scrolling through their feeds like they’d do on any other day. It also brought into the spotlight these social media’s “autoplay” strategies when it comes to video, and it’s clear many of us don’t know we can turn these videos off in the first place.
If you’re looking to turn off this functionality, follow this guide to change your autoplay settings. In most cases you will be able to disable it completely, but there is one notable exception.
Facebook allows for the complete disabling of autoplaying videos, both on the desktop and mobile versions of its service. You need to visit the Settings section of Facebook’s site to turn off autoplay on the desktop. From there, Select “Videos” on the left hand-side menu and then click the dropdown menu and select “Off” aside of “Auto-Play Videos.”
This does not change your autoplay settings on the mobile app: you must do that separately. For iOS, once in the app tap “More” in the lower-right hand corner and scroll to “Settings” and tap it. Tap “Account Settings” from the pop-up menu and then “Videos and Photos,” and then “Autoplay.” Turn Smart Autoplay off, and then tap “Never Play Videos Automatically.”
For Android, it’s a bit different: Open the menu in Facebook and scroll down to “Help & Settings.” Tap it and then “App Settings.” There should be a setting there to turn off videos from playing automatically, Techlicious says.
Like Facebook, Twitter also allows for the complete disabling of autoplay on both desktop and mobile. To turn it off from the desktop site, click your photo avatar on the top right. Click on settings, and scroll down to “Video Tweets” under the Content heading, the Wall Street Journal’s Digits Blog instructs. Uncheck that box, and then scroll further until you see the “Save Changes” button in blue. Click that to save the new settings.
You will also need to adjust your settings on the mobile app. On either Android or iOS, tap on “Me” and then the gear icon which opens up your settings options. Tap “Settings”, then “Video autoplay,” and tap on “Never Play videos automatically” to turn it off.
Bad news Instagram users: There’s no known way to completely shut off videos from auto-playing as you scroll through your feed, GottaBeMobile writes. The photo-sharing site instead only disables videos from playing if you aren’t connected to a Wi-Fi network if you choose to. This is because videos actually preload before you even scroll to them: Instagram does this so the autoplay experience is seamless, but it also uses quite a bit of data.
While in Instagram app, tap the person icon on the lower right, tap the settings icon on the upper right — for iOS it’s a gear, on Android three vertical dots. Scroll down to “Cellular Data Use” under the Settings section, tap it, and then tap “Use Less Data.” As Instagram says on its help page, this does not affect how the app will work when your phone’s on a Wi-Fi network.
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