The reign of the opt-out culture: Ice-bucket autoplays cause data spikes

Posted by Sophie Figgis
06-Sep-2014 21:11:00

Blog Posts

No doubt most of the 1.317 billion people on Facebook found their Facebook feeds this summer highjacked by their close (and not-so-close) friends, throwing copious amounts of water over themselves. In fact, out of context, someone might have found this a little alarming.

So after 2.4 million ice bucket related videos and $100 billion to ALS (an increase of 3500% on the same period last year), complaints started rolling in from users complaining of unexplained data usage.

The culprit?

Facebook's new(ish) video autoplay feature has come under scrutiny. As Facebook feeds were inundated with video after video, each of which the equivalent of 24-30 images per second, the costs were handed over to the user.

How did this happen?

Perhaps because of their personal interest of monetising videos for advertising purposes, Facebook has been catching its users out. The default setting for this feature is that it works over 3g and 4g as well as over WIFI, which means that each of these data-draining videos is played indiscriminately, regardless of the potential costs resulting from it.

Taking responsibility

The feature can be manually switched off or set to play over WIFI only, and for many it might be obvious that so many videos would produce unwanted costs. However, with a growing number of young phone users, as well as those without any technical know-how, is it right for Facebook to allow this to happen? Or should they take responsibility for how their content affects users (both financially and otherwise).

Facebook has come under fire recently on this front with their recent mandatory messenger app, and their 'social experiment', uncovered earlier in the year. With social media becoming more and more necessary to the world, the tech giants seem to have all the power, what responsibility do they have to protect their customers?

An opt-out culture

Email was the most notable offender in the opt-out culture. Remember when you would be tricked daily into signing up for newsletters and marketing emails? Or before that, when marketers didn't even need to ask? It seems that these offences have simply changed face, with social media now the one at fault.

In any business, transparency is so important when it comes to building strong customer or client relationships. Perhaps, by growing so big, Facebook have forgotten who it is that makes them who they are - is it time we started demanding more?

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