Facebook Instant Articles video

Autoplay videos are everywhere these days and Facebook is no exception. I suppose an argument could be made that autoplay content provides a smoother user experience by removing the need to manually tap the play button.

But having videos load automatically as you scroll through your News Feed on Facebook might incur mobile data overage charges that outweigh any benefits. That a lot of users deem autoplay videos a total nuisance and distraction, played silently or not, isn’t helping either.

If you use Facebook’s mobile application, I’ve got some good news for you: autoplay videos in your News Feed can be easily turned off completely with just a few taps. Or, you could do as I do and set videos to autoplay on Wi-Fi only in order to avoid unwanted cellular charges.

How to adjust autoplay settings for video on Facebook

You can adjust the Facebook app’s autoplay settings to Wi-Fi and cellular connections, Wi-Fi only or off.

Step 1: Launch the official Facebook app on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. The app is available at no charge in the App Store.

Step 2: Tap the More icon in the lower right corner of the screen.

Facebook mobile app Settings iPhone screenshot 001

Step 3: Scroll down and tap on Settings. Choose Account Settings in the pop-up menu.

Facebook mobile app Settings iPhone screenshot 002

Step 4: Tap on the Videos and Photos option.

Step 5: Hit the Autoplay option in the Video Settings section.

Facebook app Autoplay videos iPhone screenshot 002

Step 6: Lastly, choose when videos will autoplay in your News Feed: On Mobile Data and Wi-Fi Connections, On Wi-Fi Connections Only or Never Autoplay Videos.

Facebook app Autoplay videos iPhone screenshot 001

“Autoplay videos begin automatically as you scroll,” reads the feature description. “Videos use more data than other stories on Facebook, so choose when your videos autoplay here”

Facebook will turn off autoplay “if your battery is low“.

Autoplay videos and mobile data

If you set your autoplay settings to On Mobile Data and Wi-Fi Connections, your cellular data is enabled and Wi-Fi coverage spotty, Facebook will attempt to retrieve News Feed videos through your carrier’s mobile data connection.

In this scenario, the app’s cellular data usage depends on the amount of time you spend watching a video. If you scroll past an autoplay video in News Feed, your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad will use less data than if you stop to watch it for a longer period of time.

Related tutorial: How to upload HD photos and videos on Facebook

If you set autoplay to On Wi-Fi Connections Only, videos won’t autoplay on cellular. However, in this scenario you can still manually click on a video to play it, in which case Facebook will load content over your mobile data connection.

Facebook may also prompt you to click a video in your News Feed to play it even though autoplay is enabled. This typically happens when either your mobile data connection is slow or you’ve used a large amount of mobile data recently.

And as mentioned, the app automatically turns off autoplay if the battery is low.

Autoplay videos and Wi-Fi Assist

Folks who enable autoplay videos but are concerned about their mobile data consumption are advised to choose the On Wi-Fi Connections Only option. Which brings me to iOS 9 and its new feature called Wi-Fi Assist. Wi-Fi Assist automatically switches to your carrier’s data network whenever it detects a poor Wi-Fi connection.

iOS 9 Wi-Fi Assist switch iPhone screenshot 001

In fact, iOS 9 enables this feature by default.

More worryingly, Wi-Fi Assist will switch to mobile data when Wi-Fi coverage is spotty even if cellular data is disabled in Setting.

Therefore, you might want to consider turning Wi-Fi Assist off in order to prevent unwanted cellular data charges when Wi-Fi is acting up and Facebook’s autoplay setting is set to On Mobile Data and Wi-Fi Connections.

Full tutorial: How to enable/disable Wi-Fi Assist on iOS 9

What are your thoughts on autoplay videos?

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  • Al Fresco

    Good tip. Between auto-play in FB(starts playing again when reading comments, and again when going back to the feed – sometimes playing a single video three times or more in total) and Apple music my data easily exceeds my 6GB monthly data plan.

  • McBobson

    Does anyone know how to do this on desktop?

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  • Creepa07

    i want to turn this feature on it worked fine on my old iphone 6 plus now i got the iphone 6 plus it doesn’t work, i have cleared the cache unistalled and reinstalled the app i have restored and it still doesn’t work, works fine on twitter and instagram it driving me crazy.