People love to complain about Facebook. All. Of. The. Time. “I hate my news feed.” “Nobody ever sees what I post.” “The messenger app is spying on me.” Blah, blah, blah. My typical response is, “Welp…don’t like it, don’t use it. It’s free. No one is forcing you to use Facebook.” I am not here to complain about Facebook.
I am complaining about how you use Facebook.
And I mean you in the general sense. Not you specifically. You are awesome. But anyway, if you do use Facebook (and if you don’t, you probably aren’t reading this) you’ve surely noticed the change in how videos uploaded directly to Facebook are displayed. By default, videos are set to play automatically, albeit without sound until you click on them. You may like this. You may hate this. I’m kind of neutral on it. On the one hand, videos I might have ignored will catch my eye. On the other hand, I’ve seen more than a few things I would have rather not seen. Thanks, weirdos whom I call friends. I’m also maybe a little annoyed by the fact that my feed is sometimes wall to wall videos…but we’ll get to that in a bit. Whatever your thoughts on those auto-playing videos, it’s easy enough to change it.
So why would you want to change your video settings to “Off”, even if you don’t mind them?
I have actually left my video settings to auto-play. At least for now. Other than one or two awkward office moments when I accidentally clicked on something and had to apologize for whatever came through my speakers, it doesn’t bother me too much. But…I also have unlimited data. If you’re browsing Facebook on a mobile device not connected to Wi-Fi, all of those ice bucket videos could be bleeding your data allowance dry. If you’re not on a plan with unlimited data and you’re not yet ready to turn off auto-play…just make sure you watch your usage, mmmkay? Nobody likes a surprise bill. Well, maybe your phone company since they reap the rewards. But I’m pretty sure you don’t want a surprise bill.
Here’s where things get annoying…
I know everyone uses Facebook their own way. Totally cool and to each their own and all that. But on any given day I can scroll through Facebook and see a few dozen videos auto-playing away in my feed. Videos of your kids taking their first steps? Adorable. A few seconds of your kitten chasing a frog? Sure, why not. That video you shared from that radio station’s page of that person falling down an escalator? Well…not really my thing. OK maybe it is. I don’t know. The point I’m trying to make is that it’s clogging up my feed. So. Many. Shares. The latest, funniest video doesn’t appear on my feed once. It appears dozens of times. Facebook actually has tools in place to keep you from seeing the same content over and over. But it can’t necessarily recognize that it’s the same content if Bobby shares the video from some television station’s page and Tina shares the video from some B-list celebrity’s page. So now I’ve seen that poor person fall on that escalator 24 times. Without clicking on it. And I swear I only laughed the first time. OK, maybe I laughed each time. But still… All of those videos of that person falling on the escalator have kept me from seeing the video of your baby taking her first steps. No es bueno.
I have a very under-utilized YouTube channel. I have friends who are basically YouTube stars. They pay the bills with the money they earn on YouTube. Making videos and editing and all of that is hard work. And it’s not free…they pay for cameras, lighting and who knows what else. When they upload their videos to YouTube they are able to monetize their content by allowing YouTube to place ads. Sure, ads are annoying, but they’re a necessary evil. Love and a thumbs up doesn’t pay the rent.
So what is the point I’m trying to make? Well…most of those videos you see shared on Facebook came from somewhere else before they were on that random page asking you to share it with all of your friends. 94% of the time the original video came from YouTube. OK, I made that number up. But YouTube is where most content creators choose to share their video content. When you upload to YouTube you’re able to choose your share settings. Most people with a YouTube channel are happy to have their content shared…through YouTube. That’s because the content remains monetized. Even if the content isn’t monetized, they gain views and subscribers-important analtyics if you’re in the biz.
There are plenty of YouTube ripper programs out there. People are using them to steal (yes, I said steal) YouTube content and upload it directly to Facebook. The owner of the video loses the monetization, the subscribers and the views. The thief (yes, I said thief) uploads the video to the their Facebook page and encourages you to like and share. That allows them to grow their Facebook page and capitalize on their extended social media reach. Reach they built by stealing. (Yes, I said stealing.) I’m sure this phenomenon existed prior to the auto-play videos…but it’s exploded since that feature went into effect.
What I want you to do:
If you see a super cute/funny/whatever video you want to share, take a minute (yes, I said minute-that’s usually all it takes) to find the original source on YouTube. Share the YouTube link instead of the Facebook video. Sure, it won’t auto-play and it won’t catch as many eyes, but…you won’t be dealing in stolen content, either. That feels like the better choice, right? If you really want to help, report the stolen video to Facebook and alert the original owner of the content. And I’m totally willing to concede that most of the people stealing videos for Facebook don’t realize they’re doing anything wrong. That’s because they think they’re sharing. But sharing requires permission from the original owner. So let’s be civil, ask people to share the right way, and remind those who need reminders that saying, “I’m not the original owner of this content” or “No copyright infringement intended” isn’t a get out of jail free card.
And if you haven’t already, you should totally like my Facebook page. I promise no auto-playing videos unless they’re mine.