Facebook users: Beware of autoplay data charges
By BETH LISA GOODBAUM CBS NEWS September 5, 2014
Some Facebook users have discovered that a feature of the social media site may be responsible for racking up unexpected charges on their mobile phone bills.
Simply perusing your News Feed on the Facebook mobile app on your phone can take a toll on data usage because the site's videos autoplay by default. Pause on a post with video, and it starts to play whether you clicked on it or not. However, Facebook says users can avoid that drain on their data consumption with just a few setting changes.
The issue was first spotted by the U.K. consumer website MoneySavingExpert.com. Tracking a recent surge in hefty data charges, the site solicited feedback from its social media community to determine the root of the problem.
"We've seen many complaints from people who have been stung with data bills after exceeding their monthly allowance and who believe it to be because of Facebook autoplaying videos," the site reported this week.
In its data research, MoneySavingExpert.com's staff found that mobile users who logged into their Facebook on an internet browser did not activate the autoplay feature, only those who used the mobile app.
Facebook confirmed to CBS News that the autoplay feature is enabled on both the mobile app and desktop -- but that it consumes "very little data" if people just scroll past videos. "Only if people stop to watch the video do they consume more data," a Facebook representative said. "We want to make sure that videos consume as little data as possible and that people can control what they play automatically."